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10 December 2023

No one hurt, no spillage in ship collision off Jebel Ali

Investigations are going on into the cause of the collision. (SUPPLIED)

By Ashaba K Abdul Basti and VM Sathish

A container ship, Sima Saba, owned by Simatech Shipping LLC Dubai, collided with MT Kashmir, an oil tanker chartered by Jumbo Line Shipping LLC, yesterday and set it on fire in a shipping channel five miles off Jebel Ali port.

The 20,000 dwt (deadweight tonnes) container ship with a capacity of 14,000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) was sailing off Jebel Ali port, headed for discharge at port Khalid in Sharjah. The oil tanker, MT Kashmir, a 45,000 dwt, was carrying liquid plastic raw material from Iran when the collision occurred at around 12.30pm.

No casualties have been reported and two crewmembers were rescued from the water, said Sarah Lockie, DP World's spokeswoman. The accident did not affect shipping on the route.

Speaking to Emirates Business, Amir G Maghami, Managing Director, Simatech Shipping, said there is no reported damage to the cargo aboard the container vessel. Maghami said: "We are still assessing the scale of the damage resulting from the collision and the fire, but the vessel, along with the cargo worth tens of millions of dollars, is safe."

He said a small part of the container vessel's front side caught fire due to oil spilling from the tanker. "Our insurers are on site and the ship safely docked on her own steam at the Dubai anchorage," he said, adding that the vessel was still sea worthy according to preliminary observation. He said there was no report of any spillage from the container ship.

Clouds of smoke could be seen rising from the area. Sarah Lockie said the blaze had been contained and the channel cleared for traffic. Investigations are still ongoing regarding the cause of the collision. Pilots of both vessels are said to have been sailing their ships normally with navigation under control.

Customers who had their cargo in the container vessel were curious to know whether it was intact.

However, Morteza Massoumzadeh, Managing Director for Jumbo Line Shipping Agency, to whom the MT Kashmir oil tanker is chartered, claimed there was no damage to the 30,000-tonne liquid cargo valued at $7-8 million.

He said the accident occurred when the vessel was navigating to enter the Enoc Terminal at Jebel Ali Port to offload the liquid cargo consigned for Enoc. He said harbour masters and insurers were still assessing the extent of the damage on the 21-year-old vessel and pointed out that there was no spillage from the cargo.

"The tanker is still floating with its full cargo and no spillage has been reported. We are in the process of towing it to anchor," said Massoumzadeh. He added that all the cargo onboard had full insurance, given its value.

Industry sources told Emirates Business that ships older than 15 years normally do not get full insurance coverage and if the vessel is more than 20 years old, getting full insurance would be difficult.

Toby Sizeland, Regional Technical and Marine Manager, AXA Insurance (Gulf), said: "If two ships collide, there is a special clause in the marine insurance policy to decide responsibility for the accident based on surveyor reports, eye witness accounts, crew testimony, police reports and other information gathered from various sources. Normally it is a difficult and complex process," AXA Insurance (Gulf) is a leading marine insurance provider.

He said if the inspectors remain undecided about the cause of an accident, each insurer will pay for their own vessel's damages and the cargo.

"Some old vessels do anchor in the shipping routes because they don't get anchorage space in the dock yards. Such vessels can cause accidents," said a shipping industry source.