A US shipper is looking to have a Chinese-owned bulker condemned and sold after someone allegedly smoking on board caused a fire, destroying its plywood cargo.

Direct Link International is one of three companies suing the 38,700-dwt Sea Train (built 2021), its ownership interests and terminal operator Cooper/Ports America in US federal court seeking a total of $3.1m stemming from the fire, which broke out while the ship was docked in Houston last year.

Oregon-based Direct Link said the fire started and spread due to “allowing smoking on board, not enforcing rules against smoking on board, and actually smoking on board”.