Bulk carrier CHESHIRE under tow to Gran Canaria waters

As of 0500 UTC Aug 23, bulk carrier CHESHIRE was in vicinity 26 51N 017 54W, 54 nm south of southern tip of Hierro Island, under tow of one of four tugs deployed in salvage. Towage is confirmed by several sources, destination waters near Gran Canaria. Officials said, that CHESHIRE has to be taken close to land in order to supply materials, requested for tackling fire (if it’s fire), without interruptions and delays.
No official news and statements either from Spanish CG and SAR, or from owner of the vessel, British Bibby Line, or from Resolve Marine Salvage, contracted for salvage. No photos, either.
Understood technicians team wasn’t yet able to board CHESHIRE.
Some experts say, that ammonium nitrate is quickly diluted by sea water, with minimal harm to environment – if things come to worst, and CHESHIRE sinks. Some said, it’s an environment disaster, basing their assessment on Costa Rika accident in 2015, when sinking of a barge with 180 tons of ammonium nitrate triggered nation-wide red alert.
And of course, no expertise given on situation and involved risks:
Is it fire down there, or chemical reaction (why they mention all the time “cooling”, not “firefighting”)?
Does ammonium nitrate explode when exposed to open fire, or not, or probably, it’s some new kind of ammonium nitrate, not your nasty one, used by terrorists for making explosives? Just when and why this damn thing may explode, under what conditions?
Is there any risk of major explosion, and if none, why?
Voytenko Mikhail
Aug 23 2017

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Initial news:
Bulk carrier on fire, abandoned, drifting, Atlantic ocean
Bulk carrier CHESHIRE loaded with fertilizers on Aug 13 reported probable fire in cargo holds in the Atlantic south of Las Palmas, Canary Island, caused by chemical reaction. No visible fire or smoke were reported, but she was prohibited from approaching Las Palmas.
Early in the morning Aug 14 vessel suffered an explosion in Hold no.4, and after that, some minor explosions. The 24-crew were evacuated by Spanish Salvage helicopters in the afternoon, situation on board was found to be too dangerous for people.
As of 0400 UTC Aug 15, she was adrift in vicinity 26 38N 016 01W, some 80 nm south of Gran Canaria southern tip, with Spanish SAR tug PUNTA SALINAS (IMO 7931894) nearby.
Owner said to consider option of scuttling the ship, but changed his mind and decided to salvage bulk carrier, towing her to available port.
Bulk carrier CHESHIRE, IMO 9593646, dwt 56598, built 2012, flag UK, manager BIBBY SHIP MANAGEMENT LTD.





My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.