Dong Won 701 on fire, cannot be towed, port is operating

Dong Won 701, which caught fire at a pier in Timaru on Monday April 9th, cannot be towed out to sea from the port because it would be too dangerous to attempt it, the authorities at the port have decided. The fire is under control but due to safety concerns has not been extinguished.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) South Canterbury area manager Steven Greenyer said on Friday April 13th that one option considered was towing it out, for which permission had been obtained. But, because the major fire was on the front part of the ship, it could not be towed forward. Towing it from the stern would have meant turning the ship around into the wind. That would have meant that the fire could have spread with the wind into the rest of the ship, as well as placing the tugs in danger. “The other issue was if it sank in the channel then that would have blocked the port. If the ship had to sink then it would be better alongside the wharf”, he said.

Port operations at Timaru were largely back to normal, with no delays to ships arriving in port.

Attempts to suffocate the fires began on April 13th. One was still burning in the cargo hold, while another was in the front the vessel. Port holes and doors were being sealed up to help starve the fires of oxygen. Fire fighters were using a high-expansion foam to seal doors and any holes.

The accommodation area of the ship and half of the internal area was burnt-out or badly damaged. The rear part of the ship was still intact. Twenty fire crew members were still attending the blaze.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has declared a Tier 2 response, under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, which allows it to manage the potential risk of oil or other contaminants getting into the harbour water.

As soon it has been deemed safe so to do, a boom will be deployed around the vessel to contain any potential oil spill.

All 60 crewmembers on board managed to escape the vessel safely. No details in insurance databases. Dong Won 701 is New Zealand-flagged, 1971-built, 1,900 gt.


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