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Megaship catches fire at sea

     Honam fire disaster

A fire on the15,262 TEU Maersk Honam has led to the death of five crewmen and the loss of many containers.  Insurers expect the damages will total in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  The surviving crew members abandoned ship and were rescued by other merchant ships and the Indian Coast Guard.  The still smoldering ship is being towed to the Port of Jebel Ali, U.A.E., where the cargo will eventually be offloaded.

Risk management experts say fires on mega containerships are difficult to fight because there is often no access to the container that started the blaze.  They also say megaships are inherently more prone to fires and other safety hazards because the high number of containers increases the chances that one or more will have a problem related to the two issues that are becoming an increasing concern for all container ships – non-declaration of hazardous cargo and counterfeiting.

The financial consequences of the Honam disaster went up for everyone involved on March 9th, when the vessel owners declared “General Average“.  This means the substantial cost of the lost cargo, plus all salvage, vessel damage, towing, clean up, port and legal settlement costs, has to be covered by every company with freight on the vessel, including those with contents not touched by the fire.   

The ocean freight industry has seen several major incidents over the past few weeks, including this fire and another on board a Maersk vessel, plus a containership collision in Karachi Port where containers were ejected into the water.  These incidents underscore the importance of always buying cargo insurance.

Protect yourself against this substantial risk by buying Cargo Insurance, a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you will not suffer a mega financial loss when a mega-ship gets in trouble at sea. 

For more information, contact Debbie McGuire, Manager – Freight Solutions.

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