Efforts Continue to Douse Fire Aboard MSC Containership in St. Lawrence River

Continued efforts are underway to extinguish an engine room fire aboard the MSC Sao Paulo V, with the Canadian Coast Guard overseeing operations. The fire, which was first reported on Sunday afternoon, March 3, persists, prompting ongoing monitoring and response measures. Positioned in a sheltered area outside the main shipping lane near the entrance to the Saguenay Fjord in the northeastern section of the St. Lawrence River, the vessel remains a focal point of the firefighting efforts.

Departing from Montreal, Canada and en route to Portugal, the 63,500 dwt containership experienced the fire as it approached the pilot station at Les Escoumins late Sunday evening. Contacting the Canadian Coast Guard for assistance, the Liberian-registered vessel sought aid in combating the engine room blaze.

Having anchored near the northern side of the river on Monday morning, initial standby support was provided by two Laurentian Pilotage Authority pilot boats. While these boats departed on Monday afternoon, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Amundsen remains on standby, along with a nearby Coast Guard Environmental Response Team in Tadoussac. Fortunately, no environmental issues or crew injuries have been reported thus far.

To reinforce firefighting efforts, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company arranged for a team of American firefighters to board the vessel on March 5, with additional U.S. firefighters and specialized equipment joining on Tuesday. While the crew asserts control over the fire, there are unconfirmed reports suggesting its spread beyond the engine room. Nevertheless, crew members continue to remain aboard the vessel, with periodic transfers to another MSC containership for rest and supplies. Both the MSC Don Giovanni (41,590 dwt), en route from New York to Montreal, and the MSC Celine (39,000 dwt), bound from Montreal to Corner Brook, Canada, have been diverted to provide assistance.

In support of the operation, MSC has enlisted the tugboats Ocean Taiga and Anse de Moulin, based in Quebec City. The tugs have been employed for repositioning the MSC Sao Paulo V, including maneuvers to navigate the vessel to deeper areas of the river to prevent grounding during low tide, a precaution reported by the Coast Guard.

Image source: FleetMon.com