Breaking: Cargo ship laden with lithium batteries catches fire, diverted to Dutch Harbor

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A Panamanian-flagged tanker carrying 828 metric tons of lithium batteries caught fire and has been diverted to Dutch Harbor.

According to interagency communications, on Dec. 25, the Panamanian-flagged M/V Genius Star XI experienced a fire in its #1 cargo hold. The cause of the fire is believed to be lithium-ion batteries that ignited during heavy seas.

The vessel crew used its CO2 fire suppression system, and the fire was believed to be extinguished and reported no injuries onboard.

The ship diverted from its original destination of San Diego to Dutch Harbor.

On Dec. 28, the USCG Sector Anchorage Command Center was notified of a second fire, in the #2 cargo hold. The second fire is suspected to have ignited in the same manner as the first reported fire.

The Genius Star is currently cooling the cargo hold boundaries (top hatch and accessible bulkheads (side walls) by using seawater seawater, due to having run out of its CO2 suppression system on the first fire.

Nobody has accessed the cargo hold, and the master does not intend to allow anyone to access that watertight, secure space.

Alaska Chadux Network and has contracted TNT Marine Salvage, which hired Resolve Marine to deploy the vessel “Resolve Pioneer” to aid in firefighting operations on Dec 29.

Alaska Chadux Network is an industry-funded 501(c)(4) nonprofit oil spill response organization headquartered in Anchorage that maintains 17 response ready equipment hubs throughout Southcentral and Western Alaska.

The U.S. Coast Guard District 17 launched the Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley, to gain greater situational awareness and determine if additional assistance is needed.

The plan for the vessel is to transit to Dutch Harbor, still under its own power without any known propulsion or steering issues at this time, and utilize a mooring buoy located west of Hog Island near, but not in Dutch Harbor.

The vessel is still en route to Dutch Harbor maintaining “standoff from Areas-to-be-Avoided” along the islands, with an estimated arrival of Dec. 29. It has a crew of 19 onboard. The approximate propulsion fuel load (diesel) is 135,000 gallons. The vessel’s cargo is 828 metric tons of lithium-ion batteries.

41 COMMENTS

    • Why is this funny?
      IF the fire spreads then lives and environment are in danger. I was not in the state during the Exxon Valdez disaster, but I saw the beaches in Brittany, France, after the Amoco Cadiz oil spill in 1978.
      The next issue is transportation security and finding out why these batteries caught fire in heavy seas. Is it a inherent flaw in the battery design, or related to loading or packaging….
      Your reaction is bizarre!

      • A Taxpayer asks: “Is it a inherent flaw in the battery design…”

        Depends on your definition of “inherent flaw.” Most of us would simply point to the drawbacks of using lithium which burns in contact with water. A neat HS Chemistry demo. A lifestyle choice for transportation crammed down on an unwilling public by democrat climate True Believers, not so much. Cheers –

        • Thanks, HS chemistry was a long time ago (and we had mostly organic chemistry). I guess I forgot about the properties of lithium. From the article though it appears that the batteries were stored in a watertight compartment, which still begs the question, if they did not get wet, how did the fire start and is simple jostling enough to set them off??
          As for you Bob, it is hubris, I’ll give you that, but here real lives are at stake and potentially having all those batteries go down can’t be good for the environment. Sorry it just isn’t funny.

          • Robert you are correct, I know very little about batteries and my first thought when it comes to them is the AA for my remote. I have no interest in an EV, therefor have not done any research in that area either. Still the only way to gain information is to ask questions and get input from more knowledgeable folks like you.
            It appears that potentially dumping 828 metric tons of batteries and 135,000 gallons of Diesel into the ocean is no laughing matter, to say nothing of the 19 souls on board, hence my consternation at Bob’s hilarity.

      • Look into the lithium battery debacle re its claim of “green energy” and the many many fires associated with lithium battery cars/charging stations/scooters/fire trucks/homes/etc, then witness the constant push for them in the face of current times. Gotta laugh at the sheer ignorance.

  1. Where did this floating disaster originate?

    …and if the “watertight, secure space” of the number two hold is breached that seawater coolant will ignite the biggest poop show those mariners will have ever dreamt possible.

  2. Dunleavy needs to say “No!” Alaska’s waters and wildlife are too fragile to risk being contaminated by 828 metric TONS of lithium-ion batteries! Evacuate non-essential crew, and let the barge get towed to San Diego, if necessary.

  3. Any chemical engineers in here? I’m guessing that if the first hatch is compromised the volume of hydrogen produced in the first bay’s explosion would compromise seals on subsequent bays and the ship would instantly vaporize in an 828 metric ton steel plated Hindenburg event.

    The freighter was en route from Vietnam and I’d bet a nickel you could guess the dock conversation.

    “Charlie! Did you strap those 4000 pallets of batteries down”?

    “No ack me bah! Mus say shop stewah”!

    • T.B. it’s interesting that I fly frequently with my pistols and a couple hundred rounds of Ammo on Alaska Airlines passenger Jets, but I am not allowed to being my battery powered drill motor?
      Hmm…

      • We might be related.
        G48, 15rd shield arms mag and one in the pipe all the time.

        Oddly, the biggest dipsticks in the world are the ones that will soil it. Not just this mess from Vietnam but even on Amazon and eBay you can order lithium batteries and the seller will invariably declare nothing and ship them via USPS. That’s in violation of a ton of rules and the guy that made two dollars on the transaction is the same clown that will eventually be the culprit when a future mail jet makes an incandescent streak toward dirt.

    • JMARK, furthering the fun might include looking up the Texas City disaster, April 16, 1947.
      Said to be the largest nonnuclear explosion in human history. A French ship caught fire before the big boom boom!

  4. Cant build the King Cove road but can allow a floating Chernobyl into Alaska’s major seafood port??? Where’s the outrage from the US Fish and Wildlife Service? Where you at Dunleavy? State officials?

  5. Saving the environment, by destroying it. For the better good. Hope it doesn’t result in finishing what the Japanese set out to do in WW2.

  6. The climate fairy tale continues and the peons keep getting the bill. Who would have considered that in 50 short years, people would stop thinking for themselves and allow themselves to become enslaved by the climate religion and the Jim Jones of climate control, Al Gore.

  7. What happens when water hits lithium?
    Effervescence: Lithium reacts violently with water, producing hydrogen gas, which bubbles out of the solution. The reaction is exothermic, which means it releases heat. Formation of a Basic Solution: The reaction between lithium and water produces lithium hydroxide (LiOH) and hydrogen gas (H2).

    In layman’s terms, when water comes in contact with lithium, it creates the proper conditions for a rather energetic explosion and given enough fuel (lithium and water) you can create enough heat and explosive gas to make one hell of a big explosion and a hell of a lot of really toxic gas….

    I hope that the Coast Guard is smart enough to moor the vessel well downwind of any communities.

    • Kasiak, in fact the direct route from Vietnam to San Diego DOES in fact pass relatively close to Alaska. You need to realize that the earth is a sphere and not a flat map. It is for that same reason that the most direct flights from Alaska to Europe pass over the North Pole, and do not go east or west.

    • Kasiak, turns out the world be ROUND!
      Meaning that unless you are a Crack brain addled addict you would realize that the world is wider at its circumference and therefore 😉 narrower towards the Northern and Southern Poles.

      Are you a Flat Earther?

      • Essentially correct, Tiger, except in one particular: the earth is NOT round, it is spherical.

        I don’t know why so many people make this same linguistic mistake.
        “Round” refers to a two-dimensional object, such as a circle drawn on a piece of paper, whereas an object in three dimensions, such as the earth, is a sphere.

        • Jefferson, I humbly submit to your learned correction. In my defense
          I was employing a form of artistic license by the using the term ” round”. It was in fact plagiarizing the great Artis Gilmore who once blew off a nuisance question from a reporter, with ” the world be ROUND my man”.

  8. “…….Nobody has accessed the cargo hold, and the master does not intend to allow anyone to access that watertight, secure space……..”
    So why was it allowed safe harbor? Let it burn and sink in the North Pacific if complete firefighting efforts cannot be engaged.

  9. This is becoming a disturbing trend that maritime insurers have become well aware of as insurance rates for electric car haulers are rising rapidly. Apparently, electric vehicles are not as environmentally friendly as they are made out to be.

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