The abandoned 6,732-teu MSC Flaminia (built 2001) is drifting 1,000 miles from land with reports from other vessels in the area indicating a large pall of smoke over the ship.
No ships are currently in attendance on the MSC Flaminia but two fire fighting tugs are on their way although they are not expected to reach the casualty until late Tuesday evening.
NSB Niederelbe said the cause of the fire is “completely unresolved” and they had no information on the condition of the vessel.
Any estimate of the damage would not be possible until after the arrival of the tugs, the company noted.
A missing seafarer from the MSC Flaminia is feared dead but the rest of the crew and two passengers on freighter voyage cruises were rescued from a lifeboat and liferaft by the 311,000-dwt tanker DS Crown(built 1999) which trades as part of the Frontline fleet but appears to be owned by a KG fund linked to DS Tankers.
The 6,402-teu containership MSC Stella (built 2004) diverted to take on four members who sustained burn injuries as they fought the fire.
NSB Niederelbe later reported one of the rescued crewmen on the MSC Stella died from his injuries. The other injured seafarers have been now been flown by helicopter to the Azores with one in emergency care.
Other rescued crew on the DS Crown will be disembarked when the vessel docks at Falmouth in the UK.
The crew of the MSC Flaminia comprises five Germans, three Poles and 15 Filipinos with the vessel on a voyage from Charleston to Antwerp. Details of the missing crewman are currently not known.
The priority at the moment was the medical treatment of the injured crew and the safe return of the remaining personnel to their home countries, NSB Niederelbe added.
The MSC Flaminia part of the fleet of NSB Niederelbe appears to be a Conti Reederei KG financed ship on a 16 year charter to Mediterranean Shipping Co from delivery by South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo.
The fire is reported to have begun in a container in the Number Four hold but the extent to which it has spread is currently unclear.
NSB said they immediately initiated their emergency procedures and a team was working on the crisis.
The bleaching agent calcium hypochlorite is shipped in containers and can spontaneously combust. It has been implicated in a number of major containership fires although there is as yet no indication of the cause of the blaze on the MSC Flaminia.
The hull insurance of the MSC Flaminia is led by the Swedish Club which also provides protection and indemnity cover for the vessel.
There have been several casualties over the last couple of years where the same insurer is doubly exposed with the biggest incident that of the 3,032-teu Rena(built 1990) which broke up after running aground off New Zealand. This was also a Swedish Club loss.