USCG Responds to Distressed Container Ship Following Onboard Explosion
The Coast Guard has been responding since Friday to the distressed container ship MSC Idil with 25 people onboard, after the ship suffered a marine casualty following an explosion onboard approximately 60 nautical miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The crew of the 900-foot Panamanian flagged container ship is all accounted for and have suffered no injuries following the incident that caused the container ship to begin listing and take on water into a fuel tank and cargo compartment.
The crew of the MSC Idil has stabilized the situation and is controlling the ship’s stability using onboard water pumps to manage flooding.
The MSC Idil reported the explosion was most likely caused by welding that was taking place on board the vessel. The Idil also reported they have full control of their cargo and that they have not released any hazardous materials into the environment but are taking actions to mitigate any potential release. The MSC Idil is reported to have 588,000 gallons of fuel oil and 62,000 gallons of diesel on board.
Wathstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan were notified of the emergency at approximately 3:42p.m. Friday through Digital Selective Calling followed by Mayday VHF radio transmissions received from the ship.
The Coast Guard launched an immediate response sending a 45-foot Response Boat Medium from San Juan and MH-65 helicopters from Boriquen to assess the situation. The responding Coast Guard Search and Rescue units determined no immediate threat was present and were replaced Friday night by the Coast Guard Cutter’s Matinicus and Sapelo, who remain on scene with the MSC Idil ready to provide rescue assistance while monitoring the situation.
In addition, a Customs and Border Patrol maritime patrol aircraft responded to the incident and conducted an aerial assessment Friday night reporting no signs of pollution, while the crew of a Coast Guard Ocean Sentry aircraft from Miami conducted an overflight Saturday morning and also did not detect any signs of pollution.
The Coast Guard is constantly monitoring the condition of the MSC Idil to ensure the safety of the crew and the environment. A commercial salvage team is being transported to the MSC Idil to completely assess the condition of the vessel and determine the best course of action to repair the damage. In addition, pollution response teams are on alert should they be needed.
Coast Guard Cutter’s Sapelo and Matinicus are 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Source: US Coast Guard, May 15, 2012