Yantian Express in Halifax March 17, 2015.
A year and a month after the outbreak of fire on the Hapag-Lloyd container ship Yantian Express, the German Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty has released its findings as to the cause. Not surprisingly, due to the severity of the fire, the bureau cannot state with complete certainty where it originated. Intense firefighting efforts, in which high pressure water streams dislodged containers in the source area meant that the best the bureau could do was narrow the source down to one of three containers.
However the FBMC is reasonably certain that a container carrying coconut charcoal was the origin. Since the box was erroneously labelled as carrying coconut pellets, there is strong evidence to suggest that it was the source. The material is known to self-ignite, and in fact was implicated in a previous ship fires on MSC Katrina in November 2015 and Ludwigshafen Express in February 2016.
Intentionally mislabeling hazardous materials is a serious issue in the shipping industry, endangering the lives of crews and the integrity of the ships themselves. HAPAG-Lloyd now holds shippers responsible for losses resulting from undeclared or misdeclared cargo, and fines shippers if they are found out.
Yantian Express was en route to Halifax January 3, 2019 when the fire broke out. The crew was evacuated from the ship and the fire extinguished by salvors over a nineteen day period. One month later the ship arrived in Freeport, Bahamas where the entire ship's cargo was offloaded and the ship patched up enough that it could sail to China where it was repaired.
The ship returned to Halifax January 26-27, 2020 - with little fanfare - certainly none from this blog (oops) - and is currently en route to Port Said.