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"Thar She Blows"

The "4th of July" On 12 November

Page 1 of 3 For Our Feature

Feature Date: November, 2002

Countryman & McDaniel

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"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene --Off Sri Lanka

 A 2002 Countryman & McDaniel

Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

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"Thar She Blows".

The "4th of July" On 12 Nov. 2002

Page 1

November 2002

Fireworks Commodity Handling UPDATE

A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender !

November 2002

The Vessel Is M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania

The Time Is November 12, 2002

"Thar She Blows"

Page 1 Explosion At Sea - This Page

Page 2 The Aftermath

"T-E-U Bar-Be-Cue"

Page 3 The Incredible Damage - Yet She Remained Afloat! - This Page

M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania in better days

M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania

Vessel Code:




Metric Tons:

Dead Weight Tons:

TEU Capacity:


March 2002






From Singapore -- Nov 8 -- for Hamburg With Container Cargo & 21 crew

-- A Fire Aboard ! --

The Biggest Fear of Every Mariner

QUESTION: What Would Be The Worst Possible Cargo To Be In That Burning Container?

ANSWER: Well, Explosives, Or Fireworks Would Be The Worst.

POSITION: lat 05 43.39N, long 82 27.28E

The Final Answer Is: "Fireworks" Were In One Or More of The Containers Aboard.

This Is The Closest We Can Ever Come To The 4th of July -- In November.

Sky Rockets In Flight!

The Manifest Information For These Containers Could Even Relate To Charges of Murder.

What Cargo Was Declared?

To The NVOCC? To The Vessel?

News Reports -- Nov. 20 2002

Hanjin Pennsylvania fire "has gutted accommodation & engine room" At least 6 rows of containers on deck & under deck have been effected by the blaze, which is understood to have started in a container carrying fireworks & spread to engulf the area immediately forward of the superstructure. But as the ship continues to burn, and salvage crews are still hampered in their attempts to board the vessel to carry out firefighting operations, experts are already suggesting the likely cause of the explosion was not a container full of fireworks.

The fire was understood to have started in below deck spaces, according to Hanjin sources. Fireworks should be carried on deck & are regarded as hazardous cargo. The similarity of the explosion & fires onboard Hanjin Pennsylvania present an uncanny resemblance to those onboard other containerships, where a commodity known as calcium hypochorite (more commonly known as a purifying or bleaching agent used in swimming pools for example), has been identified as the main cause.

Back in April 1998, the container M/V Sea-Land Mariner suffered explosions & subsequent fire off Crete while on a charter voyage to COSCO. The explosions came from a container carrying calcium hypochorite loaded in China.

In July 1999, the 2,000 teu M/V CMA Djakarta suffered an explosion & subsequent fire off N. coast of Egypt. Vessel was on passage from China to Europe on charter to CMA-CGM. The fire started in a container loaded with calcium hypochlorite.

In both these cases, the subsequent fires were nowhere near the intensity of that onboard M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania. China, along with India and the U.S., have emerged as major exporters of the commodity, and Europe is the major importer. The 2000 amendment to the IMDG Code, effective Jan. 1st 2001, states that calcium hypoclorite should be stowed in areas shaded from direct sunlight & away from heat sources. There should be adequate air circulation through the cargo.

Sources suggest this afternoon, photographs taken of M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania burning off Sri Lanka, and what looks like a "gigantic firework display", show containers loaded with fire crackers igniting after the explosions and fires in containers loaded with calcium hypochlorite.

The Fireworks Show Now Over -- There Are Dead

Sadly, 19 crew rescued, 1 dead & 1 missing.

M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania Continued To Burn For More Than 4 days. A tragedy.

Dutch professional maritime salvors, Smit & Wijsmuller awarded a Lloyds Form contract to salve ship & cargo.

Heard On The Warf -- Nov. 23 2002

"There are reports that the fire is still burning as of 23 November. M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania is without power as the engine room has been flooded. We look to the actual cause of the explosions and the repurcussions of misdeclaring hazardous freight (class 1) as general cargo. I strongly feel that this incident will be a defining moment for shippers who import class 1, fireworks importers. It is too early to feel the magnitide of this terrible accident but I will be interested in following The Cargo Letter web site during the coming months."
.... from our reader - Wishig Confidentiality

"In todays port & shipping newspaper, published in Hamburg, one reported that one was able making a connection between "Hanjin Pennsylvania" and tugboats yesterday morning -- Nov. 21 2002. Vessel will now be towed to landside. Crew accomodations & engine room are burned out. Fire is under control, just in bay 14 fire still continues. It seems that the your site photos were taken by crew member(s) of other tugboats or vessels."

.... from our reader Malte Witt


From Our Expert On The Scene (anonymous) March 7 2003

"Dear Cargo Letter,

"Investigation continues into the Hanjin Pennsylvania accident and there is still a question as to how many fireworks containers were loaded and if they were declared properly and if they were Class 1.4G or 1.3G or both.

In the mean time, the U.S. Railroads have embargoed Class 1.3G so logistics companies have their hands full in finding available routes for this commodity. The busy season is April & May (to meet the U.S. 4th of July need) so the timing was not very good for this loss. The embargo is a result of the "U.S. Safe Explosives Act" and the railroads take the position that they cannot comply with this act so they embargoed instead. The carriers are only booking Class 1.3G to the coasts and they next have to arrange motor truck cargo -- moved over the road from the discharge port -- all very expensive and hard to cover with insurance. The Fireworke industry will make it through -- but the restrictions are not reasonable."

Anonymous Insider -- Fireworks Commodity Expert

Continue Your Reading

"Thar She Blows"

Page 1 Explosion At Sea - How This All Began - THE BIG BANG! - This Page

Page 2 The Aftermath

"T-E-U Bar-Be-Cue"

Page 3 The Incredible Damage - Yet She Remained Afloat! - This Page

M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania in better days

Follow the link to very amazing photos

NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Infornation For This Loss.

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 8th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our readers send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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