Sunday, June 2, 2019

Yantian Express sails

After unloading its entire remaining cargo in Halifax, and loading some 1,000 empty containers, the Yantian Express sailed this afternoon.

Atlantic Oak assists in aligning the ship for the MacKay bridge. 

It is notable that by sailing today, five months less a day from when fire broke out on the ship, it will likely be in almost the same position tomorrow that it was in five months ago. At that time it was bound for Halifax, from Colombo, Sri Lanka and had sailed safely through the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean and most of the way across the Atlantic without incident.

Rough weather may have been the factor that caused something to occur in a container on deck forward that caused it to erupt in flames. The weather almost certainly prevented the crew from quelling the blaze that eventually damaged or destroyed several hundred containers.

I have made numerous posts over the intervening months tracking the firefighting and salvage efforts, the ship's arrival in Freeport, Bahamas to discharge the damaged boxes, and its eventual arrival in Halifax to unload all of the intact containers. Those boxes are now taking up all the spare room that can be found in the Cerescorp container facility in Fairview Cove.

As late as yesterday morning the ship still had a lot of containers on deck to be unloaded or re-distributed.

On departure today it was certainly apparent that even with the empties on board to aid in stability, that the ship is still very lightly loaded. There are no containers stowed in the forward holds where the fire did the most damage. The hatch covers were also damaged, and have likely been welded closed for safety. Unlike bulk carriers and tankers, container ships usually do not make lengthy ballast voyages. They do not have large tanks or holds than can be filled with seawater, but only smaller trim type tanks and double bottoms for fuel or water.

The Nova Pilot sets out in advance to disembark the pilot off Chebucto Head. With gusty winds, the coxswain will  advise the pilot on which side to disembark and if the ship needs to alter course to create a lee.

The ship's destination is given as Tanger Med, Morocco, perhaps to take on more empties as it works its way east to China for permanent repairs.


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