Several Abandon Ship During Vessel Fire in Pacific
At least four mariners abandoned ship and 17 remaining crew members remained on board after a fire was reported aboard a 650-foot vessel in the Pacific Ocean about 1,800 nautical miles northwest of Oʻahu.
The US Coast Guard in Hawaiʻi received notification of the situation at around 1:04 a.m. HST on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, and was responding to the incident along with several good Samaritan vessels.
According to the Coast Guard, the Sincerity Ace, a Panamanian-flagged car carrier was on a voyage from Japan to Hawaiʻi when the incident occurred.
The master of the vessel reported a significant fire aboard, ongoing firefighting efforts, and an intent to abandon ship. The crew was able to launch one of the life rafts, and four of the 21 mariners abandoned ship with lifejackets according to Coast Guard reports. It is unconfirmed if they reached the life raft upon entering the water. The remaining 17 crew are reportedly continuing to fight the fire. Weather is reported as 17-foot seas with winds at 26 mph.
“We are thankful no injuries have been reported but are cognizant a lot is happening, and that may change at any time,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Les Elliott of JRCC Honolulu.
“The distance involved here requires any and all available support, we thank the crews of the commercial vessels for volunteering to assist and have Coast Guard air support en route,” said Elliott.
Upon report of the incident, Watchstanders in Honolulu immediately issued a SafetyNet broadcast requesting the assistance of vessels in the area and directed the launch of the Hercules from Air Station Barbers Point.
One commercial vessel, the Green Lake, is on scene and assessing possible assistance and rescue options, with three additional commercial vessels and a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew en route. The Green Lake is a 655-foot US-flagged car carrier traveling from Japan to the US mainland. A second vessel, the SM Eagle is a 968-foot Panamanian-flagged LNG tanker on a voyage from the US mainland to Korea.
Two additional vessels, a car carrier, and a tanker are en route. The Coast Guard is also launching a second Hercules from Air Station Barbers Point. Both Hercules airplanes are equipped with self locating datum marker buoys to track positions and additional search and rescue equipment such as life rafts and survival gear that can be dropped to survivors. In addition to the Coast Guard aircraft, the US Navy will be providing a fixed wing aircraft to assist in search efforts. Other military surface and air assets are being considered.
The commercial vessels involved are part of the AMVER, or Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the United States Coast Guard. It is a computer-based global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.