10 January 2018

Video Shows Iranian Suezmax Burning Off Chinese Coast after Two Bulk Carriers Collide  

Fire May Rage for Up to a Month

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Shipping News Feature CHINA – SOUTH KOREA – The superheated, blistered hull of the Iranian tanker Sanchi which has been burning off the Chinese coast since Saturday January 6 has been drifting south east from the point where the Panamanian flagged vessel collided with the bulk grain carrier CF Crystal near Shanghai. This video (warning - there is some bad language in the film) shows the intensity of the fire during which the 32 crew are feared to have perished.

The Sanchi is operated by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) and was en route to South Korea with her cargo of lighter than water, natural gas condensate. This liquid is likely to burn off as it evaporates, possibly according to some sources, for as long as a month, assuming the ship remains afloat. The nature of the cargo will probably ensure it does not seriously pollute the surrounding ocean and experts are more concerned that the bunker fuel, used to power the ships engine, will leak and produce a slick.

Only one body of a crewman has been discovered so far and it is likely that many of the others escaped the fire by jumping from the double hulled, Suezmax class ship, however in poor weather conditions and a plume of toxic fumes, the would be rescuers have been hampered in their attempts to locate any survivors in a search area of almost 1,000 square nautical miles.

The parties looking for possible survivors include South Korean patrols and a search and rescue aircraft from the US Navy. The Sanchi was heading for one of the Hanwha Total Petrochemicals 13 plants in Daesan, South Korea whilst the 76,000 dwt Hong Kong flagged CF Crystal was carrying a cargo of US grain. That ship escaped without serious damage, either to vessel or crew, and is now moored at the port of Zhoushan, China for the formal investigation to try and establish the cause of the incident.

Photo: Courtesy of the Ministry of Transport, China.

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