Once aflame, the Flaminia is ship-shape again

A firefighting tugboat attempts to extinguish the blaze roaring aboard the MSC Flaminia two years ago.

At this point in 2012, the MSC Flaminia was still adrift at sea, abandoned and heavily damaged by a fatal and mysterious fire. Weeks earlier, it had set sail for Belgium from the Port of Charleston.

Two years and $22 million later, the containership is back on the job.

It was to call the Port of La Spezia in Italy a few weeks ago, the first step of its phased re-entry into scheduled service for Mediterranean Shipping Co., which charters the vessel. The Flaminia was repaired at the Daewoo shipyard in Romania in a project that required 200 workers.

Loaded with about 2,900 containers, the 984-foot-long vessel left Charleston for Antwerp on July 8, 2012. Six days later, an explosion in the cargo hold sparked a fire. The still-unexplained blaze killed two crew members and injured others. One remains missing and presumed dead.

"It is suspected this was the consequence of a rogue container of misdeclared chemicals or a leakage from a tank container," according to a report on marinelog.com.

The maritime website also noted that the repair job included modifications to make the Flaminia more efficient, such as cutting its fuel consumption.

The first step toward change usually begins at the grass-roots level.

To improve the Palmetto State's business climate, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce's first meeting in the state to help craft more pro-business laws when lawmakers convene in Columbia next year will be held 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday in Summerville.

The Lowcountry Grassroots meeting, as it's being called, at the Holiday Inn Express on 120 Holiday Drive, is being held in partnership with the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce. Berkeley and Charleston chamber members are also involved.

The meeting's purpose is to help mold the S.C. Chamber's agenda for the next legislative session, starting in January.

The event will start with a legislative wrap-up, then move into an open discussion on business issues. Once the issues are defined and strategies developed, the chamber takes the ideas to lawmakers.

Want to participate? Register at www.scchamber.net.

A South Carolina Gamecock alum has landed a high-level position at Benefitfocus.

Raymond August will join the Daniel Island-based software company Monday as chief operating officer. He replaces Andy Howell, who becomes chief commercial officer, a new position at Benefitfocus.

August's annual base salary will be $460,000 and he'll be eligible for an incentive bonus that could double that if the company hits certain targets, according to a filing last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He'll also be granted 175,000 shares of restricted stock that will vest over five years.

Howell's employment package for his new position have not been executed. He had been COO since June 2010.

The ex-general manager of WCBD-TV 2 has gone from the Lowcountry to the Land of Lincoln.

Rick Lipps also switched employers, jumping from Media General to Sinclair Broadcasting, which announced his hiring last week as GM of WICS-TV in Springfield, Ill.

While running the local Mount Pleasant-based NBC affiliate, Lipps also was group leader for Media General properties in Savannah and Augusta.

He left WCBD earlier this year after more than six years at the helm. He was replaced by Don Pratt on April 21.