Ship carrying burning lithium-ion batteries remains offshore, just outside Unalaska Bay
A cargo ship carrying burning lithium-ion batteries remained anchored off the coast of Unalaska Saturday, as marine firefighting experts continued responding to the situation.
The 410-foot Genius Star XI reported the fire to the Coast Guard early Thursday morning while traveling to San Diego, and was directed to Dutch Harbor, where it arrived Friday.
The ship remains two miles offshore, and a one-mile safety zone around the vessel is being enforced.
The Coast Guard deployed air and sea support, and marine firefighting experts from T&T Salvage and Resolve Marine arrived on the ship Friday.
“The investigators are on board the vessel and they're seeing no signs of fire outside of the affected area,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Michael Salerno. “Our initial assessment is that the fire is contained to the cargo hold.”
The 19 crew members remain on board the vessel, which is located two miles offshore at the opening of Unalaska Bay, according to satellite tracking from MarineTraffic.
“No injuries, and they remain on board,” Salerno said. “The vessel is still at sea. The vessel is seaworthy.”
Lithium-ion batteries pose particular dangers because they are hard to extinguish, emit toxic fumes and carry the risk of exploding.
“There's danger associated with any vessel fire, and we want to prioritize the safety of Unalaska residents, surrounding communities and, of course, the crew members on board,” Salerno said. “For those reasons, we instituted the Captain of the Port order to keep the vessel at sea.”
The Coast Guard is also enforcing a one-mile safety zone to keep other vessel traffic away.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said there had been no reports of oil or hazardous materials being released.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement she had spoken with the Coast Guard and that her office was “on standby to provide resources as needed.”
Responders have not yet identified how the fire started, but a full investigation is expected once the initial response efforts are complete.