San Diego-Bound Cargo Ship Hauling Lithium Batteries Reports Fire

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Dec 30, 2023 - 09:55 PM

A fire was reported on a 410-foot cargo ship carrying lithium-ion batteries from Vietnam. The US Coast Guard is assisting the vessel diverted to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Friday. 

Around 0440 local time Thursday, the 17th Coast Guard District Command Center in Juneau received a report from "Genius Star XI" about a fire onboard. The distress call was made about 225 miles (362 kilometers) southwest of Dutch Harbor. 

The Coast Guard dispatched a Lockheed HC-130 from Air Station Kodiak and Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley to assist the vessel. It noted that a "safety zone" will be erected around the ship "carrying lithium-ion batteries." 

Bloomberg data shows Genius Star XI departed from Vietnam earlier this month with a port call to San Diego. As of Saturday, the vessel is now offshore of Dutch Harbor. 

Wisdom Marine Group of Taipei, Taiwan, owns the cargo ship. A spokesperson from the company told AP News that there were no injuries to the 19 crew members.

The company warned about the "potential risk of explosion" and said the cargo hold, a space in the ship for storing and transporting cargo, has been "kept sealed." 

In a news release, Capt. Chris Culpepper, commander of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, wrote, "This will be an ongoing team effort as we work to safely extinguish the fire, provide any necessary medical care for the crew, and mitigate the dangers associated with a shipboard fire." 

There have been a series of lithium fires on commercial vessels this year. The latest was in July when a massive roll-on, roll-off ship experienced a fire caused by what early reports said was an electric vehicle.