In the early hours of Monday morning a major fire broke out on the Australian-flagged self-discharging bulker Iron Chieftain whilst the vessel was alongside at Port Kembla.
The blaze began in the early hours of Monday moring whilst the vessel was unloading dolomite at berth 113. Firefighters were alerted to the situation at just before 03:20 and arrived at the scene at 03:25. They believe that the fire most likely began on the ship’s conveyor belt which it uses to offload up to 34,000 tonnes of steel-making ingredients.
Port Authority New South Wales suspended shipping movements at the port while more than 100 firefighters battled the blaze, however, the closure did not last for too long with shipping recommencing at 11:30. Thermal imaging cameras have been used to monitor the temperature of the ship and its fuel tanks and Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendet Norm Buckley has said that, “All thermal readings at this stage have been pretty good. There’s been no escalation in readings and some have decreased a fair bit”.
Fire crews are expected to stay on site for several days continuing to monitor the situation and to ensure that it does not re-ignite. The Enironmental Protection Agency is monitoring air quality and any environmental effects that may arise from the firefighting efforts, but so far it is reported that the firefighting foam was contained within the ship’s bilges and that there has been no fuel or oil leaks.
All crew onboard the vessel at the time that the fire broke out were evacuated without injury.