Maersk Line’s container vessel, Maersk Honam, which was badly damaged by a fire that caused a number of fatalities, as well as losses to container cargo, is to be towed into Jebel Ali, it has been confirmed. All cargoes will be offloaded in the UAE hub port. The precise time of arrival is still to be confirmed but is expected to be within the next two weeks.
According to reliable reports, a substantial proportion of the cargo located aft, behind the ship’s accommodation area, should be in sound condition. Unfortunately, based on details received so far, most containers located in front of the accommodation area have been damaged by fire, heat or the water used to fight the fire. It will only be possible to clarify the situation once the cargo has been discharged at Jebel Ali and inspected.
The blaze, which started on March 9th while the vessel was sailing in the Arabian Sea, claimed the lives of at least four crew members and caused damage to hundreds of containers. The fire serves as a reminder of the importance of cargo insurance, says online freight forwarder, iContainers.
Klaus Lysdal, Vice President of Sales and Operations, says, “As a shipper, you can and should always buy extra cargo insurance to further protect your merchandise and cushion your damage. Given the uncertainties of mother nature, it’s a worthy investment as it would cover your cargo while it’s in storage and in transit until it reaches the safe hands of your buyer.”
Although it is confirmed that Jebel Ali will be the port of refuge, it could still be several weeks before the 2017-built vessel is allowed to berth. Port authorities will want to make sure that all fires on board have been extinguished and determine the condition of the Honam, which is a process that could still drag on for weeks, if not months. In such a situation, having cargo insurance not only facilitates the post-shipping processes financially, but also logistically.
“For clients who have insurance, filing the claim with their insurance will help speed up the process of releasing their cargo,” explains Mr. Lysdal.
Maersk has declared general average, which means that all losses will now be split among surviving cargo. Unless shippers have purchased a general average coverage insurance, they are all liable to pay a proportional part of the damage. “Without cargo insurance, your cargo is likely to be held hostage for payment of those charges. Simply said, without insurance, you stand to gain nothing or next to nothing at most,” says Mr. Lysdal.