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Coast Guard responds to vessel fire aboard ship carrying lithium-ion batteries

“We launched an HC-130 airplane from Air Station Kodiak and we also diverted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley to assist,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Michael Salerno.
Andy Lusk
/
KUCB
“We launched an HC-130 airplane from Air Station Kodiak and we also diverted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley to assist,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Michael Salerno.

A cargo ship carrying lithium-ion batteries reported a cargo fire Thursday morning, and is currently sitting outside of Unalaska Bay while the Coast Guard works to stabilize the vessel. As of Friday afternoon, the fire was contained but still burning.

The Panama-flagged ship, the M/V Genius Star XI, was approximately 200 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor when the Coast Guard received a call for assistance.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Michael Salerno said the 410-foot vessel was traveling from Korea to San Diego, but the Coast Guard directed the ship to Dutch Harbor.

“We launched an HC-130 airplane from Air Station Kodiak and we also diverted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley to assist,” Salerno said.

Acting City Manager Marjie Veeder helped organize the local Emergency Operations Center. She said the team was actively monitoring the situation as it developed.

“The vessel is not in port and we don’t know that there’s a firm plan to be in port. We just don’t know yet,” Veeder said.

She said the city's "primary concern is protecting the health and safety of our community members, the environment, fisheries and commerce," and that officials were "working on behalf of the community and advocating our position to protect our community."

Coast Guard Captain Chris Culpepper said the crew members aboard the cargo ship acted quickly and contained the fire.

The crew reported no injuries aboard the vessel, and the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

Resolve Marine, a maritime response and recovery company was deployed to respond.

The ship was anchored about eight miles from the Unalaska city dock for much of Friday afternoon. At the time of reporting, the vessel was located about 20 miles from the harbor.

Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Andy Lusk is a writer, travel enthusiast and seafood aficionado who won the jackpot by landing in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. When he's not hiking or working on his latest story, you can find him curled up with his cats and a good book. Andy is a Report for America corps member and an alumnus of New York University.
Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.