Car carrier totaled, to be removed from JAXPORT

Removal plans are underway for the Höegh Xiamen, a total loss after a more than weeklong fire smoldered on board the car carrier in Jacksonville, Florida.

Ocean Yield ASA, owner of the Höegh Xiamen, said on its website that the vessel “has been declared a constructive total loss” and that it expects to receive insurance proceeds of about $26 million in the third quarter. 

The net cash proceeds after repayment of debt related to the vessel will be about $8 million, it said.

Ocean Yield referred a request for additional details to Höegh Autoliners, which did not respond. Both companies are headquartered in Norway.

A Coast Guard spokesman said he believed cranes were being brought in to remove the Xiamen from the water but did not know when that work would begin. The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board will provide oversight for the safe salvage of the ship, he said. 

The fire was reported on the seventh deck of the car carrier shortly after loading operations were completed at JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal about 4 p.m. June 4. An explosion reportedly occurred about three hours after firefighters responded and the fire spread to other decks.

A crew from the Coast Guard Station Mayport responded to the scene, established a 500-yard safety zone around the ship and assisted the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD). 

Nine Jacksonville firefighters were injured battling the blaze and four were transported to a burn unit in Gainesville, Florida. John Bracey, a community affairs officer with JFRD, said not all of the injured firefighters have returned to work, but he had no additional details on their recovery. 

An estimated 150 firefighters were involved in the effort to contain the blaze, which was not fully extinguished until June 12.

Bracey said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The Höegh Xiamen had sailed from Freeport, Texas, and arrived in Jacksonville on June 3, reportedly to pick up used vehicles. The 600-foot vehicle carrier has a capacity of 12,250 deadweight tons. 

JAXPORT’s board of directors recently presented plaques to Fire Chief Keith Powers and Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun for their agencies’ “successful and outstanding response” to the fire. 

“There is no question that the quick actions and decisive leadership of Chief Powers and Capt. Vlaun prevented a very challenging situation from becoming much worse, and for that JAXPORT is extremely grateful,” said Jamie Shelton, chairman of the JAXPORT board. 

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