Tuesday, March 5, 2024

MSC Sao Paulo V - FIRE - update #2

 Ship traffic on the St.Lawrence River off the Escoumins pilot station was delayed this morning when fire broke out in the engine room of the ship MSC Sao Paulo V.

The Escoumins pilot station located on the north shore of the St.Lawrence,  255 km (158.4 mi, 137.7 n.mi.) downstream from Quebec City is a busy spot. All ships of any size embark or disembark pilots there for the St.Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers.

The MSC Sao Paulo V was outbound for Sines Portugal from Montreal when the fire broke out near Escoumins and both pilot boats and the nearby icebreaker CCGS Amundsen responded. As a result pilotage operations were halted for a time and some ships had to stand by. 

I have no detailed information on the current situation, but it seems that the fire did not spread to the cargo. The tug l'Anse du Moulin from Baie Comeau was on the scene. It has firefighting capability, but can also provide towing as I assume the ship's engine is inoperable.

The MSC Sao Paulo V has been in Halifax several times, most recently on February 24 when it was on the westbound leg of the trip from Europe to Montreal. Its previous calls were on the Turkey-Greece service on July 4, 2022 and August 27, 2023.

Another of MSC's older ships, MSC Sao Paulo V was built in 1998 by Hyundai Ulsan as Pohang Senator. In 2008 it became CSAV Pyrenees and in 2013 became Pohang.  In 2013 it was renamed MSC Sao Paulo and in 2023 it became MSC Sao Paulo V. Its tonnages come in at 53,324 gt, 63,537 dwt giving a capacity of 4688 TEU. (The Roman numeral has been added to MSC ship's names to categorize the ship by container capacity class. In this case V for 5 indicates that the ship carries more than 4000 but less than 5000 TEU.)


I will update this post when more information becomes available.

Update #1

From press reports and official statements, it seems that the fire broke out at about 11 pm Sunday, March 3 when the ship was off the mouth of the Saguenay River, near Bergeronnes, QC. The ship lost power and began to drift toward shore. 

The two pilot boats from Escoumins responded and, according to reports (not necessarily reliable), pushed on the ship to prevent further drift and stood by while it was able to anchor. 

The tug Anse de Moulin from Baie-Comeau arrived on scene late morning Monday. A CBC photo shows the tug spraying water on the ship. This appears to be hull cooling - a common tactic for shipboard fires to prevent spread.

The fire was declared under control mid-day Monday, March 4.

The crew of twenty-five was not evacuated, but the CCGS Amundsen was prepared to do that if needed, and deployed a work boat to the ship. There was no report of pollution, and the cargo does not appear to have been damaged.

Two ships, MSC Celine and MSC Don Giovanni stood by presumably to assist if evacuation was needed. There was no indication that they sent personnel to assist.

The ship is anchored, and will need to be towed, but as yet no destinaiton port has been declared.

Update #2 (2030 hrs AST March 5)

Despite earlier reports, the fire aboard MSC Sao Paolo V has spread to the superstructure. The tug Ocean Taiga from Quebec City is now on scene and the two tugs are spraying down the ship. Presumably the crew has been evacuated.

This has become a far more serious event than orginally anticpated, since most fires of this type have not been extinguished without significant damage to ship and cargo.

 I will update this post again if more information becomes available.



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