News

2017 Aug 17

British ship’s crew winched to safety after fertiliser cargo catches fire

Coastguard helicopters evacuated the 24 crew members of a British ship carrying burning fertilisers after a suspected fire broke out in a cargo hold off the holiday island of Gran Canaria.

They were winched to safety after a steep rise in the temperature level of the ammonium nitrate on board made it dangerous for the seafarers to remain because of the toxic gases released.

This morning the MV Cheshire, evacuated over the weekend with the aid of Spanish Coastguard helicopters Helimer 202 and 207, continued to give off thick plumes of white smoke as experts from Gibraltar and Holland prepared to board the vessel to study ways of tackling the problem.

The vessel, owned by Bibby Line Limited which has offices in Liverpool and London, was on its way from Norway to Thailand when the alert was sounded.

It had been due to make a brief stop at a port in the Gran Canaria capital Las Palmas on Sunday but ended up being steered away from the island.

The crew members, Ukrainians, Russian and Filipinos, are said to be “well and in a good condition”.

A spokesman for Bibby Line Limited said the vessel had reached a safe position 45 miles south of Gran Canaria on Sunday after the “thermal decomposition” of the ammonium nitrate and local authorities were offering assistance.

The company said in a statement: “The temperature in hold 4 rose to a high enough level to cause damage to the hatch cover and the plan is to use the assistance of a specialist salvage company to provide resources to cool the affected cargo and consequently, professional salvors.

“Resolve Marine have been appointed to attend the vessel and deal with the cargo problem.

“The crew of Cheshire have been evacuated and taken ashore for their own safety as wind conditions were so light that the fumes were not being carried away from the ship.

“A standby tug from the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency will stay with the vessel and an access ladder has been rigged.

“The vessel is drifting in a southerly direction away from any landmass.”

MV Cheshire has been under Bibby Line ownership since March 2012 when she was delivered to the company from a shipyard in China.

A Resolve Marine vessel served as one of the lead tugs that towed the Costa Concordia to Genoa for inspection and scrapping in July 2014, 30 months after it hit a reef and capsized, killing 32 people.

Source: www.express.co.uk; Gerard Couzens

Do you like this article? Yes No

Ratings: 1 Yes 0 No

Other News by Category