Firefighters Inspect Ravaged Ship
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ Firefighters on Sunday inspected a Japanese cargo ship that caught fire in the North Pacific while carrying 2,500 new Nissan cars to U.S. markets.
The Coral Ace managed to make it to the remote Aleutian Islands port of Dutch Harbor under its own power Saturday.
Coast Guard spokesman Glenn Rosenholm said the crews probably would not finish inspecting the 7,587-ton vessel before Monday. Officials did not yet know whether the cars were damaged in the fire.
″It’s taking a long time. They are going through the vessel compartment by compartment, deck by deck to ensure the fire is out,″ he said. ″So far, they haven’t seen anything; they haven’t had any reflashes of the fire.″
If found seaworthy, the vessel is expected to return to its starting point, Yokohama, Japan. Its destination had been Los Angeles.
The fire broke out Tuesday as the Coral Ace was about 500 miles south of Unimak Island in the central Aleutians. It raged for more than a day in a forward portion of the ship. The vessel’s 24 crew members at one point prepared to abandon ship but stayed on to fight the fire with hoses pumping up seawater. No injuries were reported.
By Thursday, the fire appeared to have burned out, but Coast Guard officials refused to open the ship’s hatches to check, fearing fresh air might fan smoldering embers.
Escorted by the Coast Guard cutter Munro, the Coral Ace steamed under its own power toward Dutch Harbor, more than 500 miles to the north.
The Coral Ace, registered in Panama, was chartered by Mitsui O.S.K. Ltd., a leading Japanese shipping company.