Timely Reminders re Marine Insurance

The car carrier Fremantle Highway, loaded with thousands of vehicles, first caught fire on 25 July and has now been towed to the Dutch port of Eemshaven, to assess what can be salvaged. On Sunday (13 August) another fire was reported on the South Korean containership KMTC Shenzhen, near Port Klang, Malaysia. These events serve as jarring reminders of the need for marine cargo insurance.

We always recommend that importers and exporters are covered for marine insurance on their freight. Even if your own cargo is not directly affected, damage to a ship can give rise to the declaration of a ‘General Average’ by the shipowner, with uninsured consignment holders needing to post bonds before release of their goods.

The Fremantle Highway is now expected to commence unloading its cargo, after receiving the appropriate clearances. We are still awaiting more information on the damage sustained by the ship as a result of the fire, as well as plans for the vessel repair.

The car carrier is owned by Shoei Kisen and chartered by K-Line. It had 21 crewmen at the time of the incident – all Indian nationals, one of whom tragically died. Also onboard were the pilot and a superintendent. All of those crew were rescued by boat and helicopter.

Photos of the destroyed cars aboard the autotransporter have been leaked to the public, leaving the appointed clean-up operators, Smit Salvage, very unhappy. The vessel was loaded with 3,784 cars – all new and 498 of them electric – and included vehicles from brands like Porsche, Mini, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes, and Volkswagen. Some of the images give evidence of destroyed Porsche 911s and Porsche Cayennes, while others show 5-door Mini Clubmans burned beyond recognition.

No final plan is yet in place for the burnt-out cars on the ship as many of them are fused. The salvage operators have said they don’t want the vehicles to catch fire again during salvage and ‘let the misery start all over again.’

Meanwhile, Malaysian firefighters have had a busy few days trying to contain a blaze that broke out in several containers on board the KMTC Shenzhen, operated by Taiwan’s TS Lines, early on Sunday.

A total of nine containers located in the forward section of the vessel are reported to have been affected by the fire. It has been reported that other cargo stowed in the vicinity of the blaze could be affected by heat, smoke and/or wet damage as a consequence of the firefighting operation.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency has said that smoke was still visible coming out of containers and an investigation team had been formed to look into the real cause of the fire incident. The ship had 18 crewmembers and 1,189 containers onboard. In this event, no injuries were reported.

Read our related article: Vessel Sinks off Taiwan Losing 600 Containers

As licensed Customs Brokers and International Freight Forwarders, Colless Young professionally handles all your sea cargo consignments, containerised and general. We provide import and export shipping, as well as airfreight, including customs and quarantine clearance, fumigation treatment, warehousing and trucking. We are based in Brisbane and offer a complete range of logistics services through all Australian ports and airports.