Category Archives: ACL

RO-RO Vessel on Fire in Newark

Around 9:30pm Est, Wednesday evening, A vehicle caught fire during loading operations on board the CON-RO vessel GRANDE COSTA D’AVORIO at the port NY/NJ Newark terminal. The ships crew activated the shipboard firefighting equipment, and called the Newark Fire department who responded. The fire was first reported on Deck 10, and quickly spread upwards to Decks 11 and 12.

The Newark FD Attempted to make a quick hit on the fire, but its rapid spread caused the firefighters to Retreat. In the process two went missing, causing maydays to be declared. they were found, but both have passed.

A statement from the ships owner, Grimaldi Deep Sea indicated the ship has 1200 new and used vehicles on board, and 157 containers. The Ship sails on the North America West Africa Loop. They also indicated the fire was under control, however it was clearly still burning, and reports from Friday morning, indicate that the fire is still spreading fueld by the exploding fuel tanks of cars on board.

Used vehicles are a significant hazard. unlike new vehicles, they can be full of fuel, may have other unknown contents, and be in questionable mechanical state. Used Toyotas in particular are a common export to Africa, both to be resold for driving, and as parts vehicles.

Car fires on RO-RO Vessels are a Huge issue. Vehicle decks are large open spaces, often with low ceilings, and vehicles are parked very close to each other, making movement between them very difficult. The Enclosed nature of the ship contains heat and smoke, decreasing visibility. The close proximity also means the fire can quickly spread. Cars burn at 1500F, which can cause other vehicles close by to light. Heating of surrounding decks can also cause vehicles on other decks to catch fire solely from heat transfer.

Ships have onboard firefighting systems, which are designed to meet international maritime standards. Its unlikely a municipal fire department will have adapters or compatible equipment. In this case it appears the Newark FD was attempting to use shipboard equipment, which was unable to provide sufficient pressure.

Using unfamiliar equipment is a problem. you don’t know if it will work, you dont know its capabilities. A better strategy would have been to lay hoseline into the ship, up a stair well to the 10th deck, and attack the fire from there with familiar and known equipment.

In May 2003, a Fire on board the vehicle deck of the Newfoundland ferry Joseph and Clara Smallwood was contained by Shipboard sprinklers, and Successfully fought by the ships crew while under way and local Volunteer Department once the ship docked. It took several hours to fully extinguish the fire. In that case, only one vehicle was on fire, and it was quickly detected and reacted to.

Grimaldi Group is the Parent Company of ACL. Used vehicles (And all manner of RV’s) are transported on ACL vessels via Fairview Cove, including used cars, bound for Africa.

Updates to Follow.

UPDATE 07/07 23:37
Things are not going well, the fire has spread forward and down 2 decks, As well vehicles on the top deck are visibly on fire. The ship now has a 3 degree list towards the pier. this apparently becomes a bigger concern at 5-6 degrees. the ships bridge has also been compromised by fire.

Salvage company Smit Don Jon is now leading the firefighting effort, though the inside of the ship is too hot to access.

The New Jersey Fire Officers union also released a statement, where they indicated that port authority members attempted to fight the fire with 1″ hoses, which were having no effect, so the Newark department had to take over.

So the NJ fire officers union is throwing their members under the bus? if your the Officer with Newark who arrived, Why would your initial tactical action to takeover what’s already in place – Newark determined that the port authority didn’t have the capability, so they took over and did the exact same thing!? Forget the lack of training in shipboard fires, there seems to be a lack of training in incident size up, and choosing appropriate initial tactical actions.

Look I’m a volunteer fire officer, I’m not trained in shipboard firefighting but I have worked as a longshoreman. If I roll up to that ship, I’m deploying an improvised stand pipe, ideally up an enclosed stairwell, and launching an attack from there. We saw no evidence that Newark FD attempted to run any of their own lines to attack the fire when it was clear the ships systems were not sufficient.

I think we also need to have a conversation if the fire fighting systems on board commercial vessels are sufficient to fight the kinds of Fires we see on board them.

In June 2020 A fire occurred on the PCTC Höegh Xiamen in Jacksonville, Florida. The fire managed to burn through several decks. that ship was managed by Grimaldi Deep Sea. in July a fire gutted the warship USS Bonhomme Richard at the San Diego Naval base. – fire started in a vehicle deck.

in 2019, Grande America, a ship of a similar design to the GRANDE COSTA D’AVORIO sunk after suffering a container fire on deck. the PCTC Grande Europa also suffered a fire at sea, but it was brought under control.

UPDATE 07/08 1500
the ship disappeared from AIS at 0845est this morning, suggesting that the bridge has now been lost, or has lost power. Sal Mercogliano Tweeted the below image of the ships general arrangement, overlaid on the fire image, which helps explain the situation.

UPDATE 07/09:
as of Saturday afternoon, the fire is contained to the 11th deck, and its spread has been stopped. The List is being maintained to assist in dewatering operations. On Sunday deck 11 was being overhauld, meaning the majority of the fire was extinguished, and crews were working to make sure it was fully out.

New Engine for National Gypsum?

This little Locomotive was unloaded from an ACL vessel this week. The unit was shipped to the UK in February 2022 as a Demo Unit for RSS. It has now returned, and is rumored to be replacing the SW1500 switcher at Gold Bond, reportedly on its last legs.

Designed by Tractive Power Corp of North Vancouver, the TP56 is designed for Industrial Switching. The Locomotive is built on a 3 axle HT-C truck normally used in EMD’s much larger locomotives. This 80 ton unit has 375 horspower, and 56000lbs of tractive effort.

Atlantic Star at Fairview Cove.

Atlantic Star Spent the day at Fairview Cove, on ACL’s eastbound call. the ships next stop is Hamburg, having last called in Baltimore. ACL’s ship were notably built under the British Flag, but since Brexit, they have been moved to Malta.

Since the PSA Takeover, the stacks of containers at Fairview cove are noticeably higher, and an additional stack has been placed along Africville road, blocking the outer most set of rail access. This location has been used for containers before, but only under exceptional circumstances – such as the port of Montreal strike, or when the Yantain express discharged all of her boxes post fire.

Blockages causing port headaches.

ACL Cargo Vessel inbound

Recent rail blockages are beginning to severely effect the port of Halifax. Yesterday ACL announced they were no longer calling in Halifax as long as rail service is limited, routing traffic through New York instead. ACL has a contract with CERES until 2022, and calls twice a week with containers and RO-RO traffic.

Hapag-Lloyd, and the Alliance is still calling in Halifax, but is considering re-routing cargo, as is ZIM. Hapag-Lloyd released this statement Wednesday.

The blockades of key rail track and Port Infrastructure facilities throughout Canada continues and the Federal and Provincial Governments remain in dialogue as they seek a resolution with the Indigenous communities across the country.

There have been no material changes to the state of the blockades as communicated in our previous letter. CP Rail tracks remain comparatively clear.

Prince Rupert is now clear and the recovery is underway.

The blockade in Ontario remains in place, and CN’s Eastern Canadian network is more or less shutdown. A limited number of trains are operating in the Halifax/Montreal corridor. Various options to move /divert cargo out of Halifax are being explored.

It is not clear yet how long the protests could last and the disruption continues as the blockades enter their third week. There has been inevitable disruption to the Rail transportation of both domestic and International shipments for which we apologize.

This is a continuing situation and we will provide you with regular updates.

Hapag-lloyd Feb 19 Statement

Some trains working east of Montreal are moving, but as most cargo through Halifax is bound or from beyond the Belleville blockade, those services are affected. The port is stacking cargo bound for Toronto and points west.

Why are we here?

Coastal gas link is attempting to build a Natural Gas pipeline in BC. CGL have signed benefit agreements with several indigenous tribes along the pipeline route, and the project has broad support among elected councils and hereditary chiefs. 5 Hereditary Chiefs oppose the pipeline route across Wet’suwet’en Territory, and were blocking progress in Protest.

The supreme court ruled that the Wet’suwet’en territory is unceeded – it is not subject to a treaty, and the people were not conquered, therefore the Hereditary chiefs have legal title to the land.

Those 5 hereditary chiefs are not against the pipeline. they are against the current routing of the pipeline across their lands. The chiefs have proposed alternative routeing, which is actually in use by other pipelines currently. CGL rejected the proposed new routing, claiming it would delay the project by a year, and Cost 700 million more to build.

CGL went to court, and the BC Court granted an injunction ordering the protesters away. they refused, citing sovereignty over their territory. The RCMP then moved in and enforced the injuction. The Legality of the BC court injunction is likely to be challenged, however that will take time to work out.

In the Meantime, Mohawks have blocked the CN mainline near Belleville in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. An injunction has been issued against this blockade by an Ontario Court, however the OPP have yet to enforce this.

The above are the facts. they are not open to debate.

This protest is not anti-pipeline, its not about the environment, or moving oil. some have latched on to the protest to advocate for those ideas, however that is disrespecting the purpose of the protest- which is about respecting indigenous title to the land, which in this case clearly exists.

The OPP have likely chosen restraint in dealing with the Mohawks, frankly its likely the interruptions could become much more severe were they to forceably remove this blockade. The Mohawks were participants in the Oka Crisis which featured blockaded roads bobby-trapped with incendiary devices. as bad as the rail blockade is, shutting down the 401 would be much worse.

while the Trudeau liberals are rightly getting criticism for the handling of this issue, Calls for the prime minister to order the police to do something are wrong. Politicians do not and should not directly control the actions of the police. Support and calls for Vigilantes, or other citizens to take it upon themselves to intervene is also not a sound approach.

Fundamentally CGL chose to go to court rather then being a good neighbour. CGL, wanting to save time and money is now costing the Canadian Economy millions per day in losses, and several thousand people are out of work until this is resolved. the rest of the country is an externality to getting this pipeline built how CGL want it, and frankly more anger should be expressed to at CGL, and Corporate Canada should be demanding CGL apologize, and change the routing.

ACL in and out.

The Grande Sierra Leone is filling in for the Dry docked Atlantic Star. the Ship sailed Sunday afternoon. Grimaldi is the parent of ACL, and their yellow co-ro’s are a rare sight in Halifax. Also note the sideways stow at the bow.

The Inbound Atlantic Sun held off the ferry track to allow the Grande Sierra Leone to pass.

Grande Senegal – fill in for ACL

The Con-Ro Grande Senegal made a good Friday appearance at Fairview Cove, presumably filling in for the Drydocked Atlantic Sail. Grimaldi group is the parent company of ACL, and runs a fleet of these yellow Con-Ro’s, which wile distinctive, rarely put into Halifax.

Sister Ship Grande America, suffered a Container Fire March 11, and sank in the Bay of Biscay as a result of fire damage. The crew abandoned ship in Heavy weather and were rescued by the HMS Argyle.

Atlantic Sail Breaks.

I Caught a release from Hapag-Lloyd. Seems the Atlantic Sail broke. from the release:

“M/V “Atlantic Sail” employed in the ATA Service under current voyage ATS29 suffered technical issues and therefore requires dry-docking. The vessel will terminate its current voyage in Hamburg and phase out for dry-docking.”

sounds like a replacement vessel will be put in place.

Saturday Weather.

Weather was an issue on Saturday, with some ships moving, and others waiting it out. CMA-CGM Chennai, at just over 10000teu was forced to wait out her call until 15:00 on Sunday. She was worked over night, and sailed before noon on Monday.

With CMA-CGM Chennai not entering port Saturday morning, other container ships were moving.

Dimitra C, the former MOL Priority, arrived, and  waited in the basin for Dalian Express to free the Western birth. With Dalian Express Clear, she backed in and tied up.



also working Fairview Cove on Saturday was Atlantic Sky in the the West birth.

Atlantic Sea sails.. Finally

Atlantic Sea finally sailed this morning at 4 am. She spent the week tied up at the east end of Fairview Cove with a ramp issue. Parts and technicians were due to arrive over the weekend, and were able to clear up the problem.

i was told that the ramp was able to raise and lower, however the articulation joint in the center was what failed. when the Ship sailed, it was bypassing New York – and all New York bound Cargo was offloaded, and will be restowed on Atlantic Star on Tuesday.

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