American ShipperContainerMaritimeNews

Disabled Laura Maersk headed to port

Sister ship will transport cargo while turbocharger is repaired in New Jersey

The Laura Maersk, disabled by a turbocharger breakdown, is expected to arrive in New York Harbor under tow at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The container ship was en route from Algeciras, Spain, to Elizabeth, New Jersey, last Thursday night when an explosion occurred in the engine room. An injured crew member was medavaced by the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday and transported to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. 

“It was not a massive explosion. There was a minor fire that was extinguished promptly,” said Tom Boyd, media relations manager for Maersk North America. “We only had one injury. He was discharged [Tuesday]. He’s doing great. He recovered quickly. He had second-degree burns on his hands and then some burns on his head.”

The Laura also is sound, Boyd said. “The engine is fine. It’s really just a turbocharger component.” 

The vessel’s steering and onboard generators are working as the ship is being towed to port. It is expected to arrive Thursday afternoon at APM Terminals Elizabeth, where repairs are expected to take about two weeks. 

“We have another ship on the same vessel service, the Lica Maersk, that will carry the onward cargo to other ports of call,” Boyd said. “I think maybe there will be a one-week impact to supply chains.”   

The Laura had been expected to arrive in New Jersey last Saturday. The Lica is scheduled to arrive this Saturday and sail Sunday.

After New Jersey, the ECUMED service sails to Manzanillo, Mexico, transits the Panama Canal and then calls at Buenaventura, Colombia, and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

After the Laura’s cargo is offloaded, “it will go right onto the Lica. There’s been no damage to cargo. Everything is intact,” Boyd said. 

The crew will remain on board while the turbocharger is repaired. 

“They will help with the repair process. They have power so everything works on board. It’s really just the propulsion of the engine that needs to be fixed. Things are calm on the ship,” Boyd said. 

He has sent several letters of thanks, including to leaders of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, for the support provided after the crewman was injured. Because of the distance from Air Station Elizabeth City, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter had to land on the USS Mahan and refuel before continuing on to the Laura and hoisting the injured crew member into the helicopter for transport to the hospital.

“Going 600 miles is quite a distance for a helicopter. This is the beauty of the coordinated effort between the Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard,” Boyd said. “We sent letters to express our profound appreciation to everybody who was involved. We realize it was not an easy one.” 

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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.