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Maersk Honam still some weeks from discharging cargo

Will Waters | 2018-03-22 12:36:52.0 Fire remains under control on vessel, which will most likely be towed to Jebel Ali, but further time and investigations needed first More than two weeks after a serious fire broke out on the Maersk Honam, the 15,000 teu containership is still several weeks away from being able to discharge its cargo at a suitable port, although this is most likely to be Dubai’s Jebel Ali, the world’s largest container line says.

A spokesman confirmed to Lloyd’s Loading List this morning that the fire that broke out in one of the box ship’s cargo holds on 6 March “remains under control” and salvage work continues, led by Smit and Ardent. He added: “The focus is on completing plans to bring Maersk Honam alongside in a suitable port and discharge the cargo. “Maersk Honam will most likely be towed to Jebel Ali, Dubai; however, it will probably take a few weeks and further investigations before we will be able to bring the vessel alongside.”

The ship reported a serious fire in a cargo hold at 15.20 GMT on Tuesday 6 March en route from Singapore towards Suez, around 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman. A total of 22 crew members were safely evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS Ceres, but five crew members are thought to have died as a result of the fire. Maersk said that it was still too early to determine the more specific impact to the vessel or cargo.

As reported last week in Lloyd’s Loading List,[1] Maersk has declared ‘general average’ (GA) for the Maersk Honam – a principle of Maritime Law wherein all parties involved in a voyage proportionally share the losses where any extraordinary sacrifice or expenditure is voluntarily and reasonably made or incurred in time of peril for the purpose of preserving the property imperilled in the common adventure. The British International Freight Association (BIFA) said the insurance industry is bracing itself for hundreds of millions of dollars of claims. The £122 million ship was carrying 7,860 containers.

BIFA said that on the evidence of images from the Indian coastguard, hundreds of containers in the fore section of the ship would seem to be a total loss, but boxes stowed behind the superstructure and in the aft section appeared intact. As reported earlier this week in Lloyd’s Loading List,[2] Maersk Line is to stop stowing dangerous cargo close to a ship’s accommodation block and engine casing until it is established what caused a devastating fire on the Maersk Honam. In addition to changing stowage plans, Maersk said it would also be inspecting certain containers that share a shipper or forwarder and commodity combination that matched containers in the specific cargo hold where the fire started.

The Danish line confirmed that hazardous freight was on board and stowed in accordance with International Maritime Dangerous Goods code requirements. There is no evidence at this stage that dangerous cargo caused the fire, the line said, with the new stowage arrangements had been taken as a precaution. The fire on the Maersk Honam serves as a reminder of the importance of cargo insurance, “given that Maersk has now declared general average, which means that the surviving cargo has to pay a share of the cost for the vessel damage, the tow, clean up, legal settlements, etc.”, highlighted Klaus Lysdal, vice president of sales and operations at digital freight forwarder iContainers.

By law, all shipping carriers are obliged to offer a minimum amount of insurance, but it offers limited coverage.

But the general advice to cargo owners is always to purchase additional coverage to protect themselves from worst-case scenarios, said Lysdal.


  1. ^ As reported last week in Lloyd’s Loading List, (www.lloydsloadinglist.com)
  2. ^ As reported earlier this week in Lloyd’s Loading List, (www.lloydsloadinglist.com)

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