Genius Star XI under way to San Diego

Genius Star XI leaves Dutch Harbor on Feb. 12. Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard

After spending several weeks in Unalaska / Dutch Harbor, the cargo vessel Genius Star XI left Sunday for its original destination, San Diego, Calif. The ship has been delayed after a cargo hold carrying lithium batteries caught fire on Dec. 25 and caught fire again on Dec. 28, while transiting the Gulf of Alaska from Asia.

“This was a unique and complicated operation under very challenging conditions,” said Capt. Christopher Culpepper, Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “The broad team of experts that were mobilized worked in a coordinated and professional fashion to accomplish the objectives and get the ship back underway to its intended destination port.”

After the second fire, the ship was directed to Broad Bay, near Dutch Harbor, where it was stabilized. Later, it was allowed to continue to the dock at Unalaska for final inspections and the securing of cargo in preparation for its voyage.

“The vessel’s owner activated its vessel response plan mobilizing incident management and salvage marine firefighting teams. Several experts were engaged from around the world to provide consultation on the risks and specialized operations required to deal with the potentially damaged lithium-ion battery cargo. Organized as a Technical Expert Advisory Group, the experts provided recommendations for operations as more was learned about the condition of the damaged cargo. A salvage firefighting team remained aboard the vessel throughout operations,” the Coast Guard reported.  

“This was a particularly challenging operation given the remote location and winter conditions,” said Bernie Nowicki, State On-Scene Coordinator. “I am grateful for the engagement and cooperation of the City of Unalaska and their port officials who assisted us throughout the operations.”  

Community air monitoring was conducted during the incident with over 480,000 readings all showing normal atmospheric conditions. A team of specialized expert battery technicians were mobilized to Dutch Harbor to further triage and re-secure the large industrial battery units. Crews completed recharging and installing the onboard CO2 system and the vessel was inspected to meet all safety requirements and regulations, the Coast Guard said.

“I am proud of the team’s accomplishments during this very challenging operation,” said Chris Graff, Incident Commander. “We operated in high winds, rain, and snow, working around dangerous cargo with no accidents or injuries, a true testament to the dedication, hard work, and commitment to safe work practices of all involved.”  

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.


  1. It’s amazing how the progressive eco warriors ignore the very real environmental damage of electric vehicles.

    I get the long term goal is to force us out of being able to travel to better herd the sheep. But the hypocrisy is astounding.

    • You probaly should quit using your lithium battery smartphone because of the dangerous environmental damage.

      • The ability of a lithium battery to develop heat is directly proportional to it’s amp hour capability. The battery in your cell phone is NOT going to catch on fire. All current production cell phones have battery managemen systems to control heat dissipation and overtemp shutdown controls. This ship was transporting LARGE amp hour lithum battteries that had NOT been properly palletized for ocean transport. An the whole electric battery use in transportation modalities is non viable, from and economical or environemental standpoint.

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