Maersk has reported an active fire in a cargo hold on its liner vessel Maersk Honam en route from Singapore toward Suez around 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman.
After firefighting efforts were unsuccessful, the crew sent out a distress signal and a total of 23 crew members were evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS Ceres, which arrived at the scene around 18:30 GMT. Four crew members remain missing. The fire on board the Maersk Honam continues and the situation of the vessel is very critical, Maersk said.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown. Maersk Line said it will investigate the matter in cooperation with all relevant authorities. The Indian Coast Guard is involved in emergency response efforts.
“We’ve received the news of Maersk Honam and the four missing crew members with the deepest regret and are now doing our outmost to continue the ongoing search and rescue operations. This by rerouting our own vessels, with assistance of vessels in the area – most notably ALS Ceres that thankfully acted promptly upon our distress call – and the local authorities,” said Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Executive Board, A.P. Moller - Maersk.
Container vessels MSC Lauren, Edith Mærsk and Gerd Mærsk, all en route in the Arabian Sea, have diverted their routes and are approaching the area with expected arrivals in the early morning Wednesday, March 7 local time. Weather conditions in the area are currently fair.
The Singapore flagged Maersk Honam was built in 2017 and has a nominal capacity of 15,262 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit). The vessel is carrying 7,860 containers. All impacted customers will be contacted directly.
Maersk Line is also informing the relatives of all crew members. The nationalities of the 27 crew members are: India (13), the Phillipines (9), Romania (1), South Africa (1), Thailand (2) and the United Kingdom.
Toft said, “The evacuated crew is obviously distressed, with two crew members currently receiving medical first aid onboard the ALS Ceres. We will offer crisis counselling for the seafarers signing-off and returning to their families and our thoughts and deepest empathy go out to the families of the crew members that are still unaccounted for. We will offer them all the support we can in this very difficult situation."