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Car carrier totaled, to be towed from JAXPORT

Höegh Xiamen burned for more than a week after loading vehicles in Florida

It took more than a week for a fire aboard the Höegh Xiamen to be fully extinguished in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo: JFRD)

Towing 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. Both companies are headquartered in Norway. Höegh referred questions concerning the number of vehicles carried and the total value to commercial operator Grimaldi in Italy.

Höegh did say the Xiamen is expected to remain at port for a number of weeks in preparation for towing. A date and destination have not yet been determined, the company 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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Click for more FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.