Ultra Large Container Ship MAERSK HONAM major fire UPDATE Apr 01

MAERSK HONAM Apr 06 Update
As of 1300 UTC Apr 06, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 22 26N 063 23E, moving around in legs. It just looks like they’re waiting for something, most probably for permission to enter shelter port, whatever port it may be. No information explaining the delay and obviously, still not granted permission, is available. Judging from Maersk interview given to Loadstar “We still expect this port to be Jebel Ali, Dubai”, there are doubts whether final port will be Jebel Ali, it may be probably, some other port and other country.
Again, there may be a number of reasons for delay, lack of shelter agreement and moving around, such as MAERSK HONAM being still too dangerous to be docked in port; or UAE officials being too cautious; or probably, Maersk can’t meet UAE demands, required for granting permission and sheltering the ship.
According to The Loadstar, Maersk’s 2M partner, MSC, has not issued a customer advisory on the Maersk Honam casualty since 21 March when it said: “We will only be able to clarify the situation once the cargo has been discharged at the port of refuge and inspected.”
Most possible conflicts and problems which are sure to arise later, are described in The Loadstar latest article “Cargo owners still waiting for news of Maersk Honam containers”: https://theloadstar.co.uk/cargo-owners-still-waiting-news-maersk-honam-containers/

MAERSK HONAM Apr 01 Update
As of 1300 UTC Apr 01, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 22 02N 063 18E, heading somewhere southeast. MAERSK said in its’ statement, that the ship is to arrive at Jebel Ali in early April and understood, MAERSK confirmed Jebel Ali as port of destination. I received a letter from a shipper who said that MAERSK didn’t reply to his request to clarify destination and date of arrival.
Again, it isn’t known what’s going on there – whether MAERSK HONAM is still too risky, too “hot” to be allowed to port, or some other considerations. Judging from track, caravan just moves around.

MAERSK HONAM Mar 29 Update
As of 22000 UTC Mar 28, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 22 15N 063 25E, with almost no visible towage progress – caravan in 4,5 days covered mere 50 nm in western direction, doing some legs on the way. So it’s still a long way to Jebel Ali, more than 650 nm. It isn’t known what is causing delays and such slow progress, there may be a number of reasons, from MAERSK HONAM being still to risky to be taken to port, to probable lack of guaranteed shelter agreement.

MAERSK HONAM Mar 24 Update
As of 1130 UTC Mar 24, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 22 15N 064 14E, heading northwest for seemingly, Hormuz Strait.
Most comprehensive report on situation, important first of all, for minor shippers, was published in The Loadstar on Mar 22:
Maersk Line has confirmed the “most likely” port of refuge for the fire-damaged Maersk Honam as Jebel Ali, Dubai – but it may be weeks before the ship can berth. Which means it could be months before the surviving containers reach their original destination.
A Maersk spokesman told The Loadstar, that the fire remained “under control” and “salvage work continues”. But he added: “It will probably take a few weeks and further investigations before we will be able to bring the vessel alongside.”

MAERSK HONAM Mar 22 Update
As of 0200 UTC Mar 22, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 20 06N 065 14E. MSC issued a statement on Mar 21 with regards to port of destination and containers on board:
Maersk Line has now informed us that Maersk Honam will be towed to Jebel Ali where cargo will be off-loaded. The ETA is still to be confirmed, and may be approximately two weeks from now.
Based on a limited amount of information to hand, MSC reasonably expects that a substantial proportion of the cargo located after, behind the ship’s accommodation area should be in sound condition. Unfortunately, we must assume, based on the details to date, that most containers located in front of the accommodation area are damaged by fire, heat or the water used to fight the fire.
We will only be able to clarify the situation once the cargo has been discharged at the port of refuge and inspected.

MAERSK HONAM Mar 20 Update
As of 0500 UTC Mar 20, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 17 53N 065 20E, slowly moving in northern direction, port of destination still unclear.

MAERSK HONAM Mar 18 Update. Some advise for minor shippers.
As of 0800 UTC Mar 18, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 15 50N 065 15E, slowly moving in northern direction, and looking like they don’t know yet where to take the ship to. Probably, there are problems there we know nothing about, but which problems slow down towage and hamper the final decision on port of shelter..
Minor shippers who don’t know yet what to do and what to expect, may find some expertise and advise in comments to this post (see below news text) http://maritimebulletin.net/2018/03/16/maersk-honam-mar-16-update-why-maersk-resembles-soviet-union/
Also, I received a letter today from Singapore-based Marine Survey and Consultancy:
Dear Mikhail,
We will be glad to provide our expertise for the above mentioned shippers.
Kind regards,
Capt Rabinder Singh, FICArb MNI
UK Class 1 Master Mariner, Marine Surveyor/Consultant
Hope it will help.

MAERSK HONAM Mar 16 Update. Why Maersk resembles Soviet Union.
As of 1230 UTC Mar 16, MAERSK HONAM and tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 14 05N 065 14E, slowly moving in northern direction, with port of destination yet unknown.
I already received letters from minor shippers – people don’t know what to do, whom to consult and how much is GA, to start with? Same story as with MSC FLAMINIA major fire, and other such accidents. If anyone can explain to minor shippers, what to expect and what’s best for them, please do, in comments. Or send your expertise to me vmd@odin.tc, and I’ll publish it.
I don’t like major companies, anything major as a matter of fact, because individuals, commons, are dust for them, though it’s a golden dust, but still dust. Majors don’t care. They care for big clients and if it comes to personalities, they react to big names only. That’s the biggest evil of all majors. They’re too big to care for clients. They’re too big for anything human, they’re like bloody movie aliens or terminators – one can’t argue with them, reason with them, shame them or plea to them.
Their CEOs are all alike – well-fed, well-cared, well-dressed bodies topped by identical faces, deprived of human emotions, saying clichés and platitudes, and caring for one thing only – for themselves and their precious careers.
There was a ruling class in Soviet Union, it was called NOMENKLATURA. I invite those interested to read Mikhail Voslyanskiy’s NOMENKLATURA (there’s an English translation) – the most comprehensive study of Soviet ruling class. You’ll be startled by resemblances between Soviet-era Nomenklatura and modern establishment. Sometimes I think I never actually, left Soviet era behind – here I am, all over again, everything is so familiar, from CEOs (Party bosses) to media (Communist propaganda machine).

MAERSK HONAM Mar 15 Update. Convert container ship into tanker container ship.
As of 0330 UTC Mar 15, MAERSK HONAM and 4-5 tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 12 50N 065 19E, some 650 nm off Mumbai India and Oman coast, destination yet unknown, but looking like to be Oman. Maybe India refused shelter for though dowsed, but still dangerous ship. What’s going in and around the ship, is unknown. All concerned are mostly concerned, as of now, about all the claims, disputes and losses, which are following such disasters.
All the ideas and projects already said and posted, with regards to fire safety of container ships, sum up to just one – to convert container ship, de facto, into tanker, dividing cargo space into isolated sections, easy to seal and fill with inert gas, or water, or foam. Theoretically and I guess, practically, it’s possible, economically it’s downright impossible. There must be some basically new idea or ideas as how to ensure container ships fire safety.

MAERSK HONAM Mar 13 Update. General Average already declared.
As of 1230 UTC Mar 13, MAERSK HONAM and 4-5 tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 11 11N 065 51E, moving some 70 nm during last 24 hours, in NNW direction, so probably port and country of destination were changed. I remember in other 1-2 cases of container ships major accident the ships, or what was left of them, were taken to Oman.
Maersk meanwhile, declared General Average, with all ensuing mayhem: https://theloadstar.co.uk/insurers-brace-multi-million-dollar-claims-maersk-honam-towed-port/
Quite a number of speculations emerged, in which concerned people are trying to reconstruct the tragedy of those 5 who perished in accident. Many questions can be asked, and are already asked, with yet no answer to any of them. But this tragic side of the disaster is so extremely sensitive, not only to the relatives of perished crew, but also to those who survived disaster, that I for one, won’t take part in such speculations. If some of the crew come up with their story, for whatever reasons, I’ll publish it. If some trustworthy report on the timeline of the tragedy is to appear somewhere, I’ll publish it. But no speculations or investigations of my own, it’s just not a right thing to do, under the circumstances.
Voytenko Mikhail

MAERSK HONAM Mar 12 Update. Is Maersk too big to be safe?
Maersk issued statement saying that three bodies of those four missing were found, yet unidentified. https://www.maerskline.com/news/2018/03/12/remains-of-three-out-of-four-missing-crews
Frankly, there was little hope from the very beginning, from the day when crew left the ship and those four poor souls went missing. Be they alive and more or less uninjured, they’d surely find ways to show their presence and be rescued days ago. There are accidents and there are accidents, in some hope remains long after they happen, in some there’s no hope, except hope for miracle, shortly after they happen.
As of 1430 UTC Mar 12, MAERSK HONAM and 5 tugs engaged in salvage were in vicinity 10 25N 066 20E, some 730 nm SW off Mumbai, slowly moving in NNE direction. Firefighting is still going on:
Specialized firefighting vessels remain engaged, with salvage operations led by Smit Salvage and Ardent – two best-in-class companies within maritime salvage operations. Maersk Line is cooperating with the salvors and has two Marine Engineers onsite, working closely with Smit and Ardent. – said Maersk.
Discussions on risks and roots of container ships major fire gather way, with expectedly, no definite conclusions and recommendations, but that requires a special article, which hopefully, will be written soon.
Meanwhile, I advise those interested, and first of all those involved, to read some thoughts and experience from Master of container ships Slavomir Palenda, in his comments to MAERSK HONAM Full story post http://maritimebulletin.net/2018/03/07/ultra-large-container-ship-maersk-honam-major-fire-crew-evacuated-4-missing/
Maersk container ships seem to be running into trouble at an increasing speed, here’s the list covering period from Aug last year until present day:
Container ship SOFIE MAERSK disabled since Mar 4 in North Pacific, Update Mar 12 – still drifting;
Major fire erupted on board of ULCS MAERSK HONAM on Mar 6 in Arabian sea;
Container ship MAERSK SHANGHAI lost containers in rough seas Mar 6;
Container ship EUGEN MAERSK troubled while leaving Hamburg Mar 4;
Container ship MAERSK ARAS limping back to Manzanillo Mar 2;
10000-TEU container ship MAERSK SUZHOU reportedly lost containers stack in North Atlantic Jan 6;
Container ship MAERSK NORFOLK ran aground at Alexandria Jan 2;
Container ship MAERSK BOGOR allided with Berth, Novorossiysk Port, Nov 30;
Ultra large container ship MAERSK ENSHI collided with fishing vessel, 6 missing October 13;
Container ship MAERSK PEMBROKE fire, Celtic sea August 22.

Is it coincidence, some bad luck, temporary valley, which will turn into peak? I don’t know. The only thing I feel, though, is the gut feeling of deep mistrust of giant organizations, be they corporations or governments. I find them too uncontrollable to be reliable and trustworthy, for an individual or, when talking about corporations, minor client.
Voytenko Mikhail

Mar 11 Update
As of 0800 UTC Mar 11, MAERSK HONAM was in vicinity 09 46N 065 54E, some 760 nm southwest of Mumbai, probably already on tow. Port of destination unknown, my guess is, it’s Mumbai.
All containers in fore section, from f’castle to superstructure, understood to be total loss, all hundreds of them. According to Indian Coast Guard officials, who’re undoubtedly, possess the information provided by Maersk, among the containers in fore section were containers with flammable liquids and solid cargoes, oxidising substances, toxic and infectious cargoes, and corrosive materials. Some cargo in one or several containers inflamed or exploded, there’s little doubt about that.
No news on missing sailors yet. Again, we’re left in mystery – what it was exactly crew were fleeing from, and were most afraid of – explosions, fire, toxic fumes, or all of it? How did seaman who died from burns get those burns? Were people sent to cargo deck and went missing, or did it happen during evacuation?
How did they escape, in life raft(s) or lifeboat? There’s one photo, understood from ICG, on which we see life raft. Did the evacuation go in orderly fashion, or was there some panic?
Those aren’t idle questions to make some kind of thriller, because as I see it, container ships, especially biggest ones, are floating bombs, with so much dangerous goods inside containers, so the safety of the crew and measures to provide it, maybe have to be reviewed. More often, than not, major fires on container ships take their toll in crew lives.

Mar 10 Update:
Hopefully, fire ran out of fuel and is dowsed to smoldering remnants – see latest photos from Indian Coast Guard.

Update Mar 9 night
Two missing Filipino sailors were identified as John Rey Begaso and Janrey Genvatin, both 21 years old engine cadets from JBLFMU-Molo. According to latest updates from Indian CG, no traces yet of missing sailors.
Two offshore supply tugs were deployed for salvage, reportedly by contracted both Ardent and SMIT: MAERSK INVOLVER (IMO 9753923) and CSC NELSON (IMO 8108107). There is an AIS signal of one more tug, Dutch-flagged ZWERVER 2 (IMO 9794458), though from the looks of her she doesn’t seem to be an ocean-going tug. Indian CG ship, CG 12, is still engaged in operation.
As of 1630 UTC Mar 9, MAERSK HONAM was in vicinity of pos 09 49N 065 46E.
Fire was said to be “under control” as of afternoon Mar 9, which seem to be rather premature – no major fire on container ships, let alone Ultra Large Container Ships (MAERSK HONAM, incidentally, is the first to open ULCS major fire accidents list), was ever taken under control in just 2-3 days. One more proof to that is the fact, that no traces of missing sailors were yet found, meaning that the ship wasn’t boarded. Most probably, it’s too dangerous at present stage, with toxic fumes around and high probability of new explosions.

Update Mar 9 morning:
The missing seafarers are two Filipinos, one South African and one Indian national.
The missing Indian crew member has been identified as Sakim Hegde, one of the cooks on board, a senior official from the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), India’s maritime regulator, said.
Twenty-three crew were evacuated from Maersk Honam to nearby vessel, ALS Ceres. One of the rescued seafarer, a Thai national, succumbed to injuries the following day.
A Thai and a Filipino sailor, were in urgent need of medical care as their conditions worsened. They were evacuated by Indian navy vessel and handed over to the Indian coast guard of Thiruvananthapuram and are now receiving medical treatment. They are accompanied by one of the evacuated Indian colleagues, who is well versed in Malayalam.
The sailors, who arrived at Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, have been identifed as Deepu Jayan (31), Alen Roy (34), a Filipino and Sukun Suven peng (36) a Thai national, a hospital release said. It was also stated that they were injured after falling from the ship.

Update Mar 8 evening:
MAERSK HONAM AIS transmitter seems to be off for the lat 12 hours – either fire somehow disabled it, directly or indirectly, or something else disabled it. No SAR tug yet visible in the area, some of the ships deployed earlier seem to be leaving the scene and resuming their voyages. The only one ship by far directly involved in firefighting, was (is) Indian Coast Guard ship GC 12 (MMSI 419001028).
Anxious shippers whose containers are on board MAERSK HONAM, are advised to attempt to find out exact location of their containers. If containers are behind superstructure and further aft, obviously they have nothing to worry about, and in all probability, won’t. If their containers are loaded in fore section, they’d better start consulting their insurers and lawyers right now, if MSC FLAMINIA fire case is of any use and example of minor shippers’ woes.

Update morning Mar 8:
One of rescued 23 crew, of Thai nationality, died of injures on Mar 7, said Maersk Line, whose website as of 0500 UTC, was up and down sporadically.
A bunch of photos sent to me by MB visitor (understood taken by Indian Coast Guard and Navy), shows burning MAERSK HONAM – fire is raging in fore section from forecastle to it seems, superstructure, with most part of the ship remaining intact.
Most probably, fire won’t spread further aft beyond superstructure, which isn’t yet on fire or devastated by fire, simply because AIS is still working – latest AIS position at 0100 UTC Mar 8 was in 10 05N 065 37E.
Three container ships are nearby, no salvage ships around yet. If fire wouldn’t spread aft and hull will hold on, most probably, salvors will try to tow her by aft to some coastal area. Weather is fine.

Update Mar 7: Not much new information appeared as of late Mar 7. According to Indian Coast Guard officials, there was a huge explosion, followed by major fire, which sprang up to ship’s bridge, some 25 meters high. Maersk Line said fire started in cargo hold, not on deck. There are no new, daylight photos, for assessment and analysis.
One MB visitor in comment revealed 4 missing crew nationalities: 3 Filipino and 1 Indian.
On a pic MAERSK HONAM position as of 1700 UTC Mar 7, the ship is drifting in southern direction.

Initial news:
Major fire erupted on board of ULCS MAERSK HONAM on Mar 6 in Arabian sea, the most detailed report was issued by Maersk Like in a Statement:

Serious fire on Maersk Line container vessel in the Arabian Sea
Published on 07 March 2018
Tuesday 6 March 2018 at 15:20 GMT, the Maersk liner vessel MAERSK HONAM reported a serious fire in a cargo hold. Enroute from Singapore towards Suez, the vessel is currently positioned around 900 nautical miles southeast 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 safely evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS CERES (IMO , which arrived at the scene around 18:30 GMT. Regrettably, four crew members remain missing. The fire onboard the Maersk Honam continues and the situation of the vessel is very critical.
The container vessels MSC Lauren, Edith Mærsk and Gerd Mærsk, all enroute in the Arabian Sea, have diverted their routes and are approaching the area with expected arrivals in the early morning Wednesday 7 March local time. Weather conditions in the area are currently fair.
“The evacuated crew is obviously distressed, with two crew members currently receiving medical first aid onboard the ALS Ceres.
The nationalities of the 27 crew members are: India (13), the Phillipines (9), Romania (1), South Africa (1), Thailand (2) and the United Kingdom (1).
The vessel is carrying 7860 containers. All impacted customers will be contacted directly.

My Article on mega container ships risks, predicting major fires: Mega threat of mega container ships

Container ship MAERSK HONAM, IMO 9784271, dwt 125621, capacity 15282 TEU, built 2017, flag Singapore.




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.