Cargo ship carrying lithium ion batteries ordered to continue to Alaska despite a fire in cargo hold


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A cargo vessel carrying lithium-ion batteries has been ordered to continue to Alaska after a fire was reported in its cargo hold.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday the fire is contained but ongoing. The 410-foot cargo ship Genius Star XI was directed to continue to the port at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. A Coast Guard airplane and the Coast Guard ship Alex Haley were sent to assist.

The ship was located about 225 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor when they reported the fire early Thursday morning, the guard said in a release.

The vessel is owned by Wisdom Marine Group of Taipei, Taiwan. A spokesperson said in an email that there were no injuries to the 19 crew members and no oil has leaked.

It was headed to San Diego with the batteries from Vietnam, the email said. Crew members released carbon dioxide into the hold when the fire was detected on Monday.

“Concerned about the potential risk of explosion, the hold was kept sealed,” the email said, adding that crew have been monitoring the hold vents and temperatures.

It was not clear when the vessel would arrive at Dutch Harbor, which is one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports. The Coast Guard’s Alaska division office in Juneau didn’t immediately return an email Friday afternoon.

When the ship does arrive, it will remain offshore as response crews prepare to assist, the Coast Guard release said.

“This will be an ongoing team effort as we work to safely extinguish the fire, provide any necessary medical care for the crew, and mitigate the dangers associated with a shipboard fire,” Capt. Chris Culpepper, commander of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, said in the release.

The guard will investigate the cause of the fire.

The Genius Star XI left Vietnam on Dec. 10 en route to Dutch Harbor, according to the Marine Traffic website. The ship with a carrying capacity of more than 13000 tons sails under the flag of Panama.