Cargo Ship Catches Fire Near Port of Miami

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Cargo shipThere have been a slew of cruise ship accidents in the past few weeks – and past two years overall – but this weekend, a cargo ship has made headlines following a fire near the Port of Miami. A 650-foot cargo ship was ablaze on Sunday at Dodge Island. One of the ship’s holds apparently caught fire and as firefighters tried to contain the below-deck incident, crew members worked diligently to save the dozens of cargo containers onboard.

According to Miami-Dade Fire rescue, the fire began in the nearly 34-thousand ton Leda Trader ship’s hull, right next to flammable materials. It’s a miracle the materials didn’t catch fire because that could have resulted in a huge explosion and dozens of casualties.

But while the explosion was prevented, it took 19 fire rescue units and the Coast Guard to assess the severity of the situation. The Coast Guard set up a safety zone around the vessel to keep the situation contained while divers were scheduled to examine if the fire caused permanent damage to the ship.

Coast Guard crews were already detecting a problem with the cargo ship Saturday night. The ship operates out of Port Everglades and flies a Liberian flag. It was en route to Costa Rica from Port Everglades when the fire was detected and crew members were forced to head toward the Port Miami instead to have the ship checked.

The 16-member crew claims the ship’s fire suspension equipment was activated and had sealed of the hold, but heat sensors still showed the fire was active. That’s when they requested the Coast Guard and fire resue’s help.

No injuries have been reported yet and rescue teams have explained the flames have been extinguished. However, we have yet to learn what caused the fire to begin with.

Fire accidents are taken much more seriously these days after the Carnival Cruise ship Triumph was disabled by a fire in February, 2013. The fire onboard the Triumph, which occurred because of a leak in a fuel hose, was the result of several negligent factors, including the ship’s own inability to maintain its equipment in safe conditions.

A recent compliance notice report became public and showed how Carnival was aware of the condition the Triumph’s fuel hoses were in and knew there was a fire risk. Yet, the line still made the decision to allow further itineraries with the ship, without implementing the recommended fix to the hoses or implementing other safety measures until it was able to fix the hoses.

One would think that after a fire accident that led over 4,000 people to be stranded off the Gulf of Mexico without working toilets, meager food provisions and among unsanitary conditions, the entire maritime industry would work harder to prevent fires in the first place, but several other fire incidents have occurred since then.

This latest fire aboard the cargo ship is just another example of how maritime safety isn’t completely upheld. This fire could have ended tragically, but miraculously, no one was hurt. Fire accidents can completely ravage a ship and several in the past have led to dozens of fatalities. But whether the vessel is a cargo ship, cruise ship, pleasure boat or personal water craft, it’s important to maintain the highest standards of safety and constantly check and upgrade a vessel’s equipment in order to prevent a serious accident.