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City firefighters battle blaze on container ship at sea

by City of Cape Town
on 15 Oct 2010
City of Cape Town
City of Cape Town

The City's Fire and Rescue Services team averted crisis last week when they extinguished a fire on a container ship on its way from Walvis Bay to Durban.

The Fire and Rescue Services team received a request for assistance on Friday 08 October, indicating that a container ship was stuck just off Britannia Bay due to a fire onboard.

They dispatched a firefighting crew of four members, including Divisional Commander, Clinton Manuel; Station Commander, Jacques Laubscher; Platoon Commander, Mzuzile Makeleni; and Platoon Commander, Dean Williams. The team set off from Saldanha Bay by helicopter and arrived at the ship, situated about 27 nautical miles from Brittania Bay, at about 19:40.

The crew located the source of the fire in the ship's engine room. It seemed to be the result of an oil leak which had started to drip onto the ship's engine, overheating it and eventually resulting in ignition.

The City's Fire and Rescue crew, along with the salvage company staff, battled the fire for hours, finally extinguishing it by about 21:00 that evening. The fire had to be tackled in short bursts so that the heat which built up in the enclosed engine room could dissipate.

The officers also discovered that a tank containing 530 metric tonnes of bunker oil had overheated during the fire. The tank had to be cooled down while the ship was towed to the Cape Town Harbour. This proved to be difficult because the crew had to keep changing power to the bilge pumps to remove excess water which would have made the ship list.

The vessel eventually arrived at Duncan Dock in Cape Town at 13:45 the next day where one of the City's Fire and Rescue Services Fire Tenders was standing by to assist with further cooling down of the fuel tanks and salvage operations.

Fire and Rescue Services declared the area safe at 17:00 on Saturday 09 October and handed control of the ship back to its captain.

ISSUED BY:
COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT, CITY OF CAPE TOWN

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
THEO LAYNE
MEDIA SPOKESPERSON: FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICES
CITY OF CAPE TOWN
TEL: 021 590 1788 CELL: 079 059 1090


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