British Columbia

Cargo ship moored near Victoria cleared to move to nearby port authority

The MV Zim Kingston has been permitted to move to either the Nanaimo or Vancouver Fraser port authority, provided its master advises officials 24 hours in advance and follows all regulations and measures to mitigate risk.

More than 100 shipping containers were lost off the MV Zim Kingston last week, several others caught fire

Ships work to control a fire onboard the MV Zim Kingston about eight kilometres from the shore in Victoria on Oct. 24, 2021. The container ship caught fire on Saturday and 16 crew members were evacuated and brought to Ogden Point Pier. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Transport Canada has cleared the way for a cargo ship that's been moored off the coast of Victoria after several containers caught fire and more than 100 were lost overboard to move to a nearby berth or anchorage, the coast guard said Friday.

The MV Zim Kingston is permitted to move to either the Nanaimo or Vancouver Fraser port authority, provided its master advises officials 24 hours in advance and follows all regulations and measures to mitigate risk, it said in a statement.

Transport Canada lifted an earlier direction for the ship to stay put after a marine safety inspection and reviews of the vessel's proposed transit plan and the actions that were taken to stabilize damaged and dislodged containers. Those containers are now secure, the department said.

The ship has not sustained damage that would interfere with its safe navigation, the coast guard said, but contingency plans will be in place and multiple vessels will escort the ship during its voyage to port "out of an abundance of caution.'' The convoy will include vessels for monitoring marine mammals, it said.

One of the shipping containers from the MV Zim Kingston that has washed up on the remote northwest coast of Vancouver Island. ((Canadian Coast Guard/Twitter))

Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray was briefed by incident commanders and took part in a flyover on Friday.

The incident could have been worse had it not been for the actions of emergency responders and marine firefighting vessels, Murray said in an interview.

The fire was first reported in a row of containers that were stacked on the ship's deck not long after it was caught in a storm on Oct. 22, near the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait.

Another 109 containers went overboard, of which the coast guard said four have washed up on beaches with "no sign'' of the other 105 units containing cargo ranging from refrigerators to running shoes to Styrofoam to garbage.

The location of two containers carrying hazardous chemicals was unknown, but the substance was expected to dissolve in water, Murray said. The coast guard continues to search for floating debris and evidence of sunken containers, she said.

Storm-force winds have hindered the cleanup along shorelines on northern Vancouver Island, where several units have washed up and burst open, more than 400 kilometres from the MV Zim Kingston, the coast guard said Friday.

Danaos Shipping, which manages the ship, has hired marine contractors to remove containers and debris from the shorelines as helicopter crews airlift larger pieces. The ship's owner also hired additional beach cleanup organizations and First Nations after new debris was reported, Friday's statement from the coast guard said.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

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