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The Unified Command led by the U.S. Coast Guard declared that the fire at Port Newark aboard Grimaldi’s vessel the GRANDE COSTA D’AVORIO has been extinguished. They are moving into a salvage operation that will run concurrently with a multi-agency investigation to determine the cause of the fire and lessons to be learned from the tragic incident which took the lives of two local firefights and injured six others. The Coast Guard reports it will be a long process. With the fire out aboard the vessel, dewatering continues but the stability of the vessel has been restored and list reduced. Capt. Zeita Merchant, the captain of the port of New York and New Jersey and federal on-scene coordinator said during a briefing today that the salvage operation could last one to two months.

Salvage operations will encompass the safe removal and recovery of the affected vessel, with the primary objective of minimizing any potential impact on the environment. Response teams will carefully plan and execute the salvage operation, prioritizing the preservation of marine ecosystems and ensuring the safety of the personnel involved.

Concurrent with salvage operations, a comprehensive formal investigation will be launched to determine the root causes and contributing factors leading to the shipboard fire. The investigation will be led by the Coast Guard in tandem with federal, state, and local entities including the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Jersey State Fire Marshal, New Jersey State Police, Newark Fire Arson Division, Essex County Prosecutor and a host of safety agencies. They reported that they had been successful in containing the fire to the area used for the car transportation although it had spread to multiple decks. As of Sunday, July 9, on the fifth day of the fire, they said it had been contained to a single deck.

During the briefing, they again reiterated that according to the vessel’s manifest, there were no electric vehicles aboard nor do they believe any lithium-ion batteries. The vessel before reaching Newark had been in Baltimore where they report electric vehicles were offloaded along with other new cars. The ship loaded the containers stowed on the forward deck also in Baltimore. During the stay in Newark, it was loading previously owned cars for shipment to West Africa and was scheduled to proceed to Providence, Rhode Island to load additional cars before heading to Africa. There were approximately 1,200 vehicles spread across nine decks when the fire began on the evening of July 5.

They highlighted that what was burning was the cars but noted that the gas tanks are normally mostly drained when the cars are loaded. In addition, the car’s batteries are normally disconnected The investigation will be exploring all elements from the loading as well as the fire response While the Port of New York New Jersey remained open during the fire, a section of Port Newark had been blocked. As of July 9, they reported that the Newark Channel has been fully reopened. Air and water testing are ongoing and have been at acceptable levels throughout the incident.

Source : MAREX