In the early hours of Wednesday, 22 February, a fire broke out on JR Shipping’s container ship MV Escape. The fifteen crew were evacuated while the vessel was left adrift in the Baltic Sea. Tugboats were deployed to salvage the vessel, which have managed to tow it to the Riga port entrance.
According to JR Shipping, based in Harlingen, the Netherlands, the fire started in the engine room. The shipping company says in a statement that the crew attempted to extinguish the fire, but when this probed unsuccessful, the captain decided to evacuate. They are now on board the ship Kairit, which was in the area, and sailing towards Riga.
Dutch newspaper Leeuwarder Courant quotes Commander Pēteris Subbota, head of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre in Latvia, who says the fire extinguished on its own.
According to public broadcasting Latvia, the vessel was adrift for some time in the Gulf of Riga, but two tugboats, the Stella and Orion, were able to secure a tow and towed the vessel to Riga. The convoy was escorted by the coast guard ship Saule. It was then anchored near the port entrance awaiting the arrival of a technical specialist team sent by the shipowner. This team will survey the ship and decide on the next steps to take.
The vessel was en route from Klaipèda, Lithuania, to Riga, Latvia. The Escape was built in 2011 and sails under the Dutch flag. It is 168 metres long and can carry 1349 TEU.
Picture by JR Shipping.