Car carrier goes adrift after crew battles engine room fire

The following is the text of a press release issued April 11 by the U.S. Coast Guard:

(PORTSMOUTH, Va.) — The 577-foot Panamanian flagged merchant vessel that fought and extinguished an on-board fire Thursday remains adrift this morning approximately 1,200 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass.

Fourteen of the 23 crew members have been safely transferred from the motor vessel Sea Venus to its sister ship, the Olympian Highway. Nine crew members remain onboard to await a tug from Halifax that is scheduled to arrive Sunday.

HMCS Toronto, a Canadian navy frigate that has been assisting the Sea Venus since Thursday afternoon, is scheduled to depart this morning. The Olympian Highway will standby until the tug arrives.

The Sea Venus was en route from Rhode Island to Belgium when it reported the fire. U.S. Coast Guard watch standers at Rescue Coordination Center Norfolk, located in Portsmouth, Va., detected a satellite distress signal from Sea Venus’ electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) around 7:30 a.m. yesterday morning and coordinated assistance from the Canadian navy and two merchant vessels, the Challenge Plus and Olympian Highway.

In Canada, watch officers at JRCC Halifax notified RCC Norfolk they had established voice communications with the Sea Venus’ crew who initially reported that the engine room fire had been extinguished with the ship’s automatic CO2 systems and they didn’t need assistance, but in a subsequent distress call from the ship they reported the fire had re-flashed, the CO2 system had been depleted, and the crew was fighting the blaze with water and hand-held extinguishers.

The Sea Venus, a car carrier that was empty at the time of the fire, has approximately 300,000 gallons of fuel and 3,800 gallons of oil on board. There have not been any reports of pollution.



By Professional Mariner Staff