Counting the costs of fires at sea
from Seatrade Maritime News
The first few months of 2019 has already seen three major container ship fires. The most recent fire, on board the Grande America, has resulted in the sinking of the roll-on/roll-off containership in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of France, the loss of her cargo and oil pollution from the 2,200 metric tons of fuel on board. Why are fires on containerships like the Grande America so frequent and devastating? Firstly, cargo is packed into containers before it reaches the ship owner or carrier who are reliant on the shipper’s declaration regarding the container’s contents. Most container ship fires are cargo (rather than engine room) fires and many occur as a result of the misdeclaration or inadequate packing of hazardous cargo. Secondly, it can be difficult for crew to contain a fire which starts in one of several thousand containers in a stack in a vessel’s hold.
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