National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 08 March 2018
The Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) Mumbai of the Indian Coast Guard received a distress message at 9:45 PM yesterday from a Singapore Flagged 330 mts long container ship Maersk Honam . The ship had left Singapore on 01 Mar 18 and was having passage to Suez. The ship has 27 crew of which 13 are Indians including the Captain of the Ship. Remaining crew reported are Philipino, British, Romanian and Thai.
The vessel reported explosion and fire onboard and requested immediate assistance. The ship was at a distance of 570 km (340 nautical miles) from Agatti in Lakshwadeep Islands. The MRCC immediately alerted all the merchant ships near to the location, through the satellite based communication network, the International Safety Net (ISN).
Simultaneously, Indian Coast Guard ship Shoor patrolling near Lakshadweep Islands has been diverted for assisting the distressed vessel. ICGS Shoor is an Offshore patrol vessel having specialized fire fighting equipment on board. Further, the Coast Guard plans to press in their Dornier D 228 maritime reconnaissance aircraft from Agatti Island for search and rescue. IG KR Nautiyal, the Coast Guard Commander(West) said “Search Operations are on and Coast Guard assets have been pressed into action, It is our priority to save and rescue the 4 missing crew and also continue our efforts to salvage the vessel with assistance of specialized vessels which is being arranged in co-ordination with the Ship agency”
Indian Coast Guard’s Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre Mumbai has directed four merchant ships near to the location to assist the distressed ship. Merchant Ship MV Als Cicero reached Maersk Honam at about 11:25 PM and reports Maersk Honam on fire with flames from the main deck of the ship rising upto the ships bridge (height of about 25 metres). The crew has abandoned the ship as fire spread beyond control. Mearsk Honam had 27 crew onboard, out of which 23 has been rescued by Als Cicero. Remaining four are missing.
At present, a search operation is in progress by merchant vessels Als Cicero, Seaspan Zambezi, Navigator Centauri and Al Jasrah. The search is being coordinated by Indian Coast Guard Regional HQ(West) and MRCC Mumbai.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.