The owners of a post panamax container ship which caught fire in the Indian Ocean earlier this month have declared general average to cover the mounting claims costs.

The 8,586-teu Zim Charleston (built 2011), owned by Seaspan Corp and operated by Zim International Shipping Lines, is currently moored at the port of Colombo, Sri Lanka after a cargo fire on 8 August forced the vessel to seek refuge.

Under general average the insurance costs will be split between the cargo owners and their insurers and other insurance interests.

General Average security will now be required from all cargo owners to secure the delivery of their goods.

Around 300 containers are estimated to have been damaged or lost as a result of the fire.

There are also likely to be substantial salvage costs related to firefighting operations. Disposal of damaged containers in line with environmental regulations is also likely to represent another major cost for insurers.

However, the hull does not appear to have suffered major damage.

The ship’s protection and indemnity insurance, which covers the shipowner’s liabilities, is listed as entered with the North P&I Club through the China P&I Club.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. There are indications that is may have started in an area where dangerous goods are stored.

In a separate casualty involving Zim the 4,253-teu Zim Kingston (built 2008) lost more than 100 containers off the Port of Vancouver in October 2021.