MAERSK ELBA - Fire in engine room on 26 December 2020


On 26 December 2020, DMAIB was notified about an engine room fire on the Danish flagged container ship MAERSK ELBA which occurred off the coast of Sagres, Portugal. An auxiliary engine had during a serious breakdown caught fire, and the automatic water mist firefighting system had not extinguished the fire. The master therefore decided to release the engine room CO2 system. The CO2 succeeded in extinguishing the fire.

One crewmember suffered minor injuries from smoke inhalation during inspection of the engine room, and the engine room suffered extensive damage.

Due to the release of CO2 and the damages in the engine room, the ship had no propulsion and thus drifted uncontrollably. Prevailing winds and weather in the area made the ship drift towards the shoreline of Portugal. Around noon on the 26 December the crew performed an emergency anchoring a few nautical miles from shore.

On 29 December 2020, the ship was towed to Algeciras, Spain, where the damages from the fire was assessed. In Algeciras the ship was repaired and made seaworthy before it proceeded to Wilhelmshaven, Germany, for further repairs.

The accident report can be downloaded in PDF format here.