Monday, June 8, 2020

Hoegh Xiamen, Florida fire


Hoegh Xiamen, seen above arriving in Halifax 2015-11-02 is on fire in Jacksonville, FL.  Built in 2010 by Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry Co in Xiamen, China, it is a relatively small ship by current auto carrier standards. At 47,232 gt, 12,250 dwt it nevertheless has a capacity of 4900 CEU [car equivalent units].

On June 3, as it was preparing to get underway from the Blount Terminal in Jacksonville, there was an explosion on deck 7 and subsequently fire broke out. Fortunately the ship was in port, and a massive firefighting operation was mounted with 150 firefighters on scene. Nine firefighters were hospitalised with serious burn injuries but all 21 crew were safely evacuated.

Despite best efforts the fire spread within the ship with temperatures exceeding 500 degrees F. However the hull is being kept cool - never exceeding 175 degrees F - to prevent buckling or fracture. The firefighters are allowing the fire to burn itself out as it is too dangerous to board the ship. It is therefore likely that the ship will be a total loss as will all 2,000 cars on board.

This is the second serious incident involving a car carrier in the past year. The Hyundai Glovis ship Golden Ray capsized off Brunswick, Georgia in September 2019. With 4,000 cars on board it has been declared a total loss and is being cut up into large sections which will be moved ashore and scrapped.

Another notable incident involved the auto carrier Cougar Ace which nearly capsized in the North Pacific in 2006. It was salvaged and rebuilt and visited Halifax. See: It has now been reported that the ship has gone for scrap. Getting the ship into port so that it could be saved to work for another 16 years was a remarkable achievement. Unfortunately there was one loss of life among the salvage crew.

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