Five crew members were lost when the Singapore-flag container ship Maersk Honam, 151,400gt, caught fire in the Arabian Sea at around 1520 GMT on Mar 6.
The Maersk Line ship, of 15,262 teu, was on passage from Singapore to the Suez Canal during a voyage from Singapore to Suez and according to the Indian Coast Guard, she was around 340 miles from the Agatti Island in Lakshadweep when the fire broke out in one of the containers in a forward hold.
The fire is believed to have started in No3 hold. The crew tried to fight the fire with the CO2 fixed firefighting system, but this was unsuccessful and her Master decided to abandon ship.
On Mar 7, the Maersk Line stated: “The Maersk Honam reported a serious fire in one of her cargo holds. Twenty-three crew members have been successfully evacuated and search and rescue operations are ongoing for the four missing crew members.
“The vessel is currently positioned around 900 miles south-east of Salalah, Oman. After being unsuccessful in their firefighting efforts, the crew sent out a distress signal and a total of 23 crew members were evacuated to the nearby container ship ALS Ceres, 42,219gt, which arrived at the scene around 1830 GMT. The fire onboard the Maersk Honam continues and the situation of the vessel is very critical.”
The following day, one of the 23 survivors died from his injuries. Four merchant ships in the vicinity had responded to the distress call and on their arrival, the flames were almost 25m high and there was a huge plume of thick smoke.
Two of the 23 evacuated crew received first aid on board the ALS Ceres, but their condition worsened and they were evacuated by an Indian Navy vessel and handed over to the Indian Coast Guard at Trivandrum and they received medical treatment. The two, one Filipino and one Thai, were accompanied by one of the evacuated Indian crew members who acted as an interpreter.
On Mar 9, the Indian Coast Guard reported that the fire was under control and had been prevented from spreading. In an update on Mar 12, after the ship had been boarded and a thorough search was carried out, the Maersk Line said the bodies of three missing crew members had been found.
“Given the time passed and the severe fire damage, we must conclude by now that we have lost all four colleagues, two Filipinos, one Indian and one South African, and all four families have been informed. The two crew, who had been taken to hospital, were improving.
“The search and rescue operation in the vicinity of the ship had been suspended.”
On Mar 12, the Maersk Honam was towed to off Salalah, Oman then probably to Jebel Ali, Dubai. The vessels involved were the tug/offshore supply ship Amazon Chieftain Z, 2,966gt, the offshore supply ship Bateleur, 780gt, Maersk Involver and the Zwerver II.