Salvage tugs towing MSC Flaminia to English port

Considerable damage to the container ship MSC Flamini was clear in this photograph taken Friday morning from a salvage tugboat fighting the blaze. Ship's owner Reederei NSB, of Germany, said the fire was brought under control Monday, but cargo holds 4, 5 and 6 were “demolished.” (Photo provided by NSB Niederelbe)

The badly damaged container ship MSC Flaminia, which caught fire in the mid-Atlantic July 14 en route from Charleston to Antwerp, is being towed toward England by salvage tugs, according to ship’s owner Reederei NSB.

The German company said Tuesday that the fire aboard the Flaminia, which caused the crew to abandon ship and killed at least one crewman, was brought under control Monday afternoon.

“The tugboat Anglian Sovereign is constantly monitoring temperatures onboard the vessel via a laser thermometer and is ready to resume cooling if necessary,” NSB said in a press statement.

“Due to thick fog the salvage team is currently unable to board MSC Flaminia,” the company said. “As soon as visibility improves, a salvage team will go onboard to check each container individually and extinguish any discovered fires.”

The Flaminia left the Port of Charleston on July 8 carrying 2,876 shipping containers. At 984 feet, the ship is nearly 100 feet longer than the aircraft carrier Yorktown in Charleston Harbor.

The causes of the fire aboard the Flaminia, and an explosion that followed, have not been determined. The ship is flagged in Germany, so that nation would handle any investigation.

One crewman remains missing, several were injured, and 18 uninjured crewmen along with two passengers were earlier taken to England aboard an oil tanker that rescued them from lifeboats.

The crew had abandoned ship nearly 1,000 miles at sea, and the fire raged for days before the first firefighting salvage tugboat arrived on the scene July 17.

According to NSB, it has not been determined which European port will receive the ship once it’s clear that the fire is extinguished.

On Tuesday, the tug Fairmount Expedition was towing the Flaminia, making 5 knots, and was about 320 miles from the England.

Two other salvage tugs are escorting the Flaminia, which was listing about 10 degrees due to damaged cargo and the weight of water from firefighting efforts, NSB reported.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.