An improperly disconnected car battery led to the hearth aboard a vehicle-carrying ship at Blount Island that burned for greater than per week and resulted in $40 million price of damages, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board stated Thursday.

On account of the investigation, the NTSB issued eight security suggestions to federal regulators and the businesses concerned within the accident.

A marine accident report particulars the NTSB’s investigation of the June 4, 2020, fireplace aboard the Höegh Xiamen in Jacksonville.

9 firefighters from Jacksonville Hearth and Rescue had been injured whereas responding. Not one of the vessel’s 21 crew members had been damage.

The Höegh Xiamen and its cargo of two,420 used autos had been declared a complete loss at $40 million. In August 2020, after salvage operations had been accomplished, the vessel was towed to Turkey to be recycled.

The fireplace broke out about 4 p.m. June 4 with a whole lot of used and salvage vehicles loaded, in line with Hoegh Autoliners, the ship’s Norwegian-based proprietor.

The crew observed smoke coming from the air flow housing whereas getting ready to depart port for Baltimore. The fireplace ultimately unfold to different decks and continued to burn for eight days.

The NTSB concluded that lots of the autos loaded onto the vessel had batteries that weren’t disconnected and secured in accordance with procedures, which elevated the danger {of electrical} arcing and element faults. Throughout loading operations, each the loading personnel and crew missed alternatives to handle these hazards.

Nationwide Transportation Security Board


Burned autos are proven July 23, 2020, after elimination from the Höegh Xiamen to Blount Island.

The investigation confirmed that the detection of the hearth was delayed as a result of the vessels’ fireplace detection programs had not but been reactivated after loading was accomplished. Moreover, the Jacksonville Hearth and Rescue Division’s response to the accident was delayed as a result of the Höegh Xiamen’s grasp didn’t instantly have out there contact info for search and rescue authorities and didn’t know easy methods to report a hearth to native authorities.

Issues of safety recognized within the report embrace:

  • Ineffective coaching and oversight of auto battery securement.
  • Regulatory exceptions for used and broken flammable‑liquid-powered autos.
  • Hearth detection system deactivation throughout cargo loading.
  • Ineffective emergency misery calls.  

“The transportation of used autos, comparable to those who had been loaded on vessels just like the Höegh Xiamen, is at the moment excepted from Hazardous Supplies Rules when a vessel has a stowage space particularly designed and authorized for carrying autos,” the NTSB stated within the report. “We discovered that used autos are sometimes broken and current an elevated danger of fireplace. We consider that higher inspection, oversight, and enforcement are wanted to cut back this danger.”
5 comparable accidents have occured since 2015, together with a 2019 fireplace aboard Grimaldi’s Grande Europa, in line with the NTSB.

“The circumstances of this accident clarify that it’s essential to make sure that the batteries of used autos are disconnected and correctly secured throughout cargo loading operations,” the report stated. “The NTSB believes it’s crucial that operators of comparable roll-on/roll-off vessels engaged within the transportation of used autos act to make sure that any personnel concerned in loading operations — together with vessel crews, stevedores, and longshoremen — concentrate on the significance of disconnecting batteries on used autos.”

The general public docket for the investigation comprises greater than 750 pages of factual info, together with interview transcripts, images and different investigative supplies.