Two Maersk container ships disabled by engine room fires

Maersk Vilnius suffered an engine fire on 26 April 2020. Credit: John Jedrlinic

Container ships Maersk Vilnius and the Maersk Patras have been disabled by engine fires in the same week.

The 1,810 teu, 2010-built Maersk Vilnius was adrift for three days in the Caribbean after suffering a loss in propulsion power due to the fire in its engine room in the morning of 26 April, 2020.

At the time of the incident, the container ship was en route to Port Elizabeth, South Africa, having set sail from the Port of Freeport, Bahamas, on 23 April.

Following the fire, the anchor handling supply tug ALP Defender was contracted for towage, sailing from Trinidad to assist the stranded container ship in the early hours of April 29. The port of destination for Maersk Vilnius remains unknown.

According to a Maersk spokesperson, the fire was promptly brought under control and all 22 crew members are safe and accounted for.

The spokesperson said that they are working with the French Coast Guard to ensure the safety and health of the onboard crew. The extent of the damage onboard the container ship is under assessment.

Just a few days later, on the other side of the North Atlantic Ocean, another Maersk container ship, the 1998-built 3,000 teu Maersk Patras, suffered an engine room fire while sailing off the coast of Las Palmas, Grand Canaria, Spain, on 29 April.

In an official statement, Maersk confirmed that the fire was quickly controlled by the crew onboard and heat development from the site of the fire had ceased. The vessel is being diverted to Las Palmas Port, Gran Canaria.

No crew injuries have been reported by Maersk. The company said it intends to offer crisis counselling to the crew after the ship successfully docks.