Originally published in http://www.iol.co.za, 2010/10/08
The crew of a container ship that caught fire off the West Coast is safe after a fire onboard was brought under control, the NSRI said on Friday.
“All 21 crew remain on-board the casualty vessel and they are all safe and in no danger,” National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Craig Lambinon said in a statement.
The 162-metre long MV Boundary requested urgent assistance on Friday morning after reporting its engine room was on fire 27 nautical miles off-shore from Brittania Bay in the Western Cape.
The National Ports Authority activated the NSRI at 9.03am to respond to the Boundary’s request for help.
Following efforts to fight the fire, reportedly confined to the engine room, by 12.55pm it appeared the situation was under control.
“Our sea rescue craft had arrived on scene at 11.35am and we were confronted by a large container ship with smoke billowing from the aft (rear) section,” NSRI Mykonos station commander Darius van Niekerk said.
They found the ship’s crew fighting the fire, that at a stage had appeared to run out of control. They eventually managed to bring it under control around 1.20pm.
“At one point, when the fire appeared to be at its worst, the captain of the ship had considered ordering his crew to abandon ship, but then his crew had managed to bring the blaze under control,” said van Niekerk.
Lambinon said the ship’s port of call was Durban and it was heading towards Walvis Bay.
The vessel was joined by salvage tug Smit Amandla, which would take over further assistance and carry out damage assessments. The cause of the fire remained unknown. Engineers had been flown to the Boundary, which is registered to Majuro, in the Pacific, to help determine the immediate course of action for its voyage and cargo.
Most of the crew are believed to be Filipino nationals, with some of the higher-ranking crew apparently German.