Fire breaks out on APL Austria cargo vessel off South African coast


A Liberian-flagged cargo vessel named APL Austria has suffered a major fire off the east coast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town was alerted of the fire after it broke out on board the vessel, which was travelling 30 nautical miles south-west of Cape St Francis at the time of the incident.

The cause of the fire is yet to be established, but it is believed that the blaze originally erupted in the vessel’s No.4 cargo hold.

APL Austria is currently being docked at Ngqura harbour, situated roughly 30km east of Port Elizabeth.

The vessel was built in 2007 and features an overall length of about 280m and has a beam of approximately 40m, as well as a gross tonnage of about 71,867t, or 72,807dwt.

South African Maritime Safety Authority southern region principal officer Daron Burgess said: “The vessel was instructed to proceed to Algoa Bay anchorage and she arrived at the anchorage area at 2am this morning, Monday 13 February 2017.

"The vessel heaved anchor around 5am this morning, and was instructed to proceed further out in the bay to clear the other vessels at the anchorage area."

"There are several containers containing hazardous cargo on deck above No.4 cargo hold, but fortunately none of them were on fire.

“Lots of black smoke was emanating from the vessel. The weather conditions have been favourable since the incident occurred, with a light South-Easterly wind. The vessel heaved anchor around 5am this morning, and was instructed to proceed further out in the bay to clear the other vessels at the anchorage area.

“The tugs continued with boundary cooling during the morning hours, and during the night the vessel used their on board fire extinguishing media.”

Burgess also noted that an investigation will be carried out to discern the cause of the fire.


Image: APL Austria cargo vessel that suffered fire off the east cost of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Photo: courtesy of shipspotting.com.