The active search and rescue for the fourth missing crew member has been suspended, the shipping company said.
“Given the time passed and the severe fire damages of the vessel we must conclude by now that we have lost all four colleagues who have been missing since the fire onboard Maersk Honam which began on 6 March,” Maersk Line said in a statement. “All four families of our deceased colleagues have been informed.”
A search for the missing crew member continues on board the Maersk Honam. At this point, the identities of the recovered remains have not been identified, Maersk said.
Monday’s news brings the total death toll from incident to four, with one crew member missing and presumed deceased. The first confirmed fatality was one of 23 evacuated crew members who later died from his injuries.
In Monday’s update, Maersk said the medical conditions of the evacuated crew members are progressing. All 22 have received medical treatment on land in India and the majority have now been released from the hospital.
Those crew members with more serious injuries have moved from intensive care to a general ward and are recovering well, Maersk said.
“Our colleagues that were evacuated to local hospitals in varying conditions of health are improving and we are now preparing to bring them back to their families as their condition allows,” says Palle Laursen, Chief Technical Officer for Maersk Line.
The search and rescue operation began immediately after Maersk Honam had sent out a distress signal on 6 March due to a serious fire aboard while approximately 900 southeast of Salalah, Oman. Several container vessels diverted their route to assist in the search and rescue operation.
Firefighting on board the Maersk Honam progressed over the weekend, with the fire now reported as to be contained onboard the vessel, according to the Indian Coast Guard.
Photos of the Maersk Honam posted to social media this weekend showed major fire damage from the bow to the vessel’s superstructure. The vessel appears to have a slight list to port, possibly the result of firefighting.
The Indian Coast Guard was first to commence firefighting on Thursday, March 8. Two additional vessels, the CSC Nelson and Maersk Involver, arrived the following day and initiated firefighting.
The salvage operations are being led by Smit Salvage and Ardent, two best-in-class marine salvage companies. “Maersk Line is cooperating with the salvors and has two Marine Engineers onsite, working closely with Smit and Ardent,” Maersk said Monday.
The 353-meter Maersk Honam, an ultra-large container ship (ULCS) built in 2017, first reported a serious fire in one of its cargo holds on Tuesday, March 6, while heading west in the Arabian Sea approximately 900 nautical southeast of Salalah, Oman. Of the 27 crew members on board, 23 were evacuated to nearby containership, the ALS Ceres.
The Maersk Honam is carrying a total of 7,860 containers, corresponding to 12,416 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent).
The Singapore-flagged Maersk Honam was delivered in 2017 by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea. It has a nominal capacity of 15,262 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit).
A full investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the fire and the impact to the vessel and cargo.