Container ship on fire off Durban

Oct 11, 2003
Author: P&S

The container ship Sea Elegance (16,511-dwt) suffered an engine room explosion early this morning (Saturday, 11 October 2003) shortly after 06.00, while at anchor in the Durban outer anchorage approximately five miles from the port.

The resulting fire spread quickly through the engine room and accommodation area and has since engulfed the stern of the vessel, where some 200 empty containers are stowed.

Rescue operations involving the National Sea Rescue Institute from NSRI Station 5 at Durban, three National Ports Authority (NPA) tugs and members of the Durban Metro and NPA Fire Departments have gone to the scene to render assistance, also making use of the NPA port pilot helicopter.

Sea Elegance is on long term charter to Pacific International Lines (PIL) and was on a voyage from Singapore to Durban with a cargo of approximately 650 TEUs, including a number of empties stowed at the stern.

The 171m long ship, which was built in 1980 and is flying the Singapore flag was formerly named California Star. She was originally the Banks Line vessel Willowbank. Sea Elegance has a crew of 24 of which one person is reported missing. Minor injuries have been reported for two of the other crew.

At the time of reporting (14.00, Saturday) the fire had not spread forward of the bridgeworks.

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