‘Maersk Honam’ salvage draws to a close
The long-running salvage operation following the cargo fire on the container ship Maersk Honam is close to a conclusion following the vessel’s berthing in Jebel Ali Port
MJ has been reporting on the salvage operations following the fire on board Maersk Honam which was first reported on 6 March. When we left the story, the vessel had been towed to a safe anchorage off the port to allow salvors Smit Singapore Pte Ltd and Ardent Maritime Netherlands BV to continue their efforts to completely extinguish the fire and prepare the vessel for berthing in Jebel Ali.
Following several weeks at the anchorage and attended by a fleet of tugs and support craft Maersk Honam was safely berthed alongside allowing investigators, surveyors and insurance interests access. The fire among the cargo was mainly restricted to the area forward of the accommodation with aerial pictures showing containers abaft the accommodation appearing to be unaffected by the fire.
With so many cargo interests involved in the incident (the vessel was loaded with 7,860 containers) the legal implications for those involved will no doubt be long-running, and much effort was put into discharging unaffected cargo and removing the remains of the affected containers and their contents.
Maersk has now been reported as saying that discharge operations have been finalised with the first containers cleared for onward transport adding that containers which had been declared sound and for which all General Average and salvage securities have been submitted are now being released and will be loaded on other vessels for transport to their final destination. Maersk also stated that pending further evaluation it is intended to repair the vessel.
The vessel was on passage from Singapore to Suez and around 900nm southeast of Salalah, Oman when it reported the fire within the cargo. Twenty-three of the crew were evacuated to a nearby vessel but the incident sadly claimed the lives of five members of the crew. The Indian Coast Guard were involved in initial firefighting efforts and Smit and Ardent were quickly appointed salvors.
Good progress was made with the firefighting while the search for a suitable port continued. Around six weeks after the fire started the vessel was towed to the anchorage off Jebel Ali Port.
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