An engine fire has set off a cargo ship burning 100 metres below the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the British Columbia coast.
A fire in a container on the Liberian-flagged MV Tycoon – which left Portland, Oregon, late on Monday and is carrying 4,500 tonnes of petroleum products – sparked a fire that sent plumes of black smoke skyward as it ignited about 100 metres down in the ocean.
Firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire when it flared again during darkness but by dawn the flames had engulfed the entire ship and it was taking on water. Sea King helicopters were needed to help create air space around the vessel so firefighters could douse it. There were no injuries.
According to the Canadian navy, the ship was flying from Seattle en route to Victoria, British Columbia, on Canada’s Pacific coast, but was returned to port in Port Angeles, Washington, after the fire.
The British Department of Natural Resources said the ship and its cargo have been grounded on the ocean bottom near the town of Port Angeles since the fire broke out. The vessel will remain there until salvage crews and maritime agencies can deal with the blaze.
The shipping company, MSC Logistics, apologised for the fire and distress caused to the cargo company and the owners of the ship.
MSC Logistics said crews lost control of the vessel during its voyage and fire spread to the deck, power and propulsion system.