A US-flagged container ship, the MV President Eisenhower, suffered a fire in the Santa Barbara Channel in California and appears to be drifting towards shore, however there was little concern about the risk of grounding.
AIS vessel tracking showed the vessel to be “out of command” and traveling at a speed of approximately 1 knot towards the coast west of Santa Barbara.
The vessel is nearly 300 meters in length and has a rated capacity of 7,831 TEU. AIS shows it is on a voyage from Los Angeles, California, to San Francisco.
A Coast Guard spokesman said the President Eisenhower suffered a fire (presumably in the engine room) around 3 a.m. that was extinguished by the crew and/or the ship’s own fire suppression system. No injuries or pollution have been reported and a tug has been dispatched to assist the vessel.
A nearby offshore supply vessel, the Ryan T, has apparently joined the ship, but it was not immediately clear if it is the towing vessel.
The President Eisenhower was built in 2005 and is operated by CMA CGM Asia Shipping PTE LTD, according to CMA CGM’s website. The vessel is one of nine U.S.-flagged containerships in the American President Lines (APL) fleet. APL is a Singapore-based subsidiary of French shipping group CMA CGM.
A spokesperson for the CMA CGM group provided the following statement:
On April 28, a fire broke out on board the M/V President Eisenhower while transiting the Santa Barbara Channel. Due to the quick response of the crew, the fire was extinguished. No injuries or pollution were reported. We thank the U.S. Coast Guard for their prompt assistance. The incident is under investigation and we are working closely with the appropriate authorities.
For what it is worth, neither the Coast Guard nor CMA CGM have expressed any concern to us about a grounding incident, but the AIS shows that the vessel is still clearly “out of command”.