Cargo fire breaks out on container ship off Sri Lanka – gCaptain
A fire broke out in the cargo area of a container ship anchored near Colombo, Sri Lanka on Thursday and officials suspect chemicals could be to blame.
The Sri Lankan Navy said it received a distress call Thursday afternoon, May 20, from the container ship X-Press Pearl reporting a fire on board while the vessel was at an anchorage about 9.5 miles sailors northwest of the port of Colombo.
The Navy said the ship was carrying 1,486 containers, containing 25 tons of nitric acid, several other chemicals and cosmetics, which it loaded at the port of Hazira, India on May 15.
The container ship has a crew of 25, consisting of Filipino, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.
An inspection of the vessel indicated that the fire had likely started as a result of a chemical reaction.
“[A] A special team of personnel from the Sri Lanka Navy and Ports Authority (SLPA) boarded the ship in the evening (20) and inspected the situation on board the ship where they suspected the fire had broken out due to ‘a reaction to chemicals carried on the ship. In addition, special teams from the Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard remain on standby to respond to a possible emergency and the tug SLPA is currently engaged to smother the flames that have erupted.
The response to the incident involved two offshore patrol vessels, the Sri Lankan Navy (SLNS) Sagara and Sindurala, and a rapid attack craft. A Sri Lanka Ports Authority tugboat also assisted in the firefighting efforts.
The X-Press Pearl had arrived at anchor on Wednesday, May 19, and the ship was awaiting entry into Colombo port when the fire broke out.
The Singaporean-flagged X-Press Pearl was only recently delivered in February of this year. The vessel’s operator, X-Press Feeders, confirmed the incident in a statement posted on its website:
“On May 20, 2021, a container on the deck of the vessel ‘X-PRESS PEARL’ (which is deployed in our Middle East Strait SMX service) caught fire in Colombo Anchorage.
“The ship had taken all precautionary measures throughout the night. However, the fight against the fires is still underway with the help of tugs sent by local authorities.
“In collaboration with local authorities, X-Press Feeders is actively working on various solutions to extinguish the fire / smoke on board the vessel, while maintaining the safety of our crew.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and will duly notify affected customers of any developments.
“In the meantime, we are also looking for alternative options to ensure minimal disruption to our SMX service.”
More photos provided by the Sri Lankan Navy: