LPG tanker fire in Black Sea finally burns out

Kerch Strait (Credit: Modified Copernicus Sentinel data, via Wikimedia Commons)

An explosion that spread raging fire between two LPG tankers undertaking ship-to-ship fuel transfer of liquefied natural gas whilst anchored off the Crimean Peninsula near the Kerch Strait has finally burned out.  

Fire engulfed the Tanzania-flagged tankers Candy and Maestro on January 21. According to IHS Markit data, upon concluding the SAR operation after 2 months, reported from total 32 crew from both vessels, 12 crew were rescued, 10 crew were found dead, and 10 are missing.

Candy, which is also registered with the name Venice, is a 1992-built, 3693 GT LPG tanker whereas Maestro is a 1990-built, 4086 LPG tanker. Following the explosion, flames quickly spread to both vessels forcing desperate crew members to jump into the water to escape the blaze. 

Russia’s Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport confirmed the blaze has been extinguished with the last hot spot recorded on Candy at the end of February, and on Maestro on March 5. Maestro’s propane gas cargo fuelling the longevity of the blaze onboard.   

The owner of the vessels has reportedly been informed, although response actions are currently unknown. The salvage vessel Spasatel Demidov will remain at the scene to monitor the wreck.   

At the time of the incident, Russian news service TASS reported rescuers as saying the two Tanzania registered ships were ‘illegally anchored’ and a criminal investigation has been launched into the deaths.