Hong Kong registered bulk carrier CSSC Cape Town suffered an explosion aboard as the vessel, loaded with coal, entered British Gibraltar Territorial Waters in the Bay of Gibraltar on Friday.
The explosion appeared to be in the area of the vessel’s forecastle. Paramedic assistance was immediately deployed to the vessel.
The Gibraltar Port Authority is now able to provide the following additional information:
1. The Royal Gibraltar Police are attending on board the vessel to start preliminary investigation into cause of an explosion which occurred late on Friday evening, at approximately 2110hrs Central European Time (19th February 2021).
2. Pending any contrary conclusion by the RGP in their currently open investigation, there is no reported reason at this point to suspect that any foul play gave rise to the explosion.
3. The explosion resulted in a total of four crew members being injured.
4. Two crew members were treated abord the vessel by paramedics from the Gibraltar Health Authority.
5. Two other crew members were evacuated for urgent treatment at St Bernard’s Hospital by the GHA. Both have now been transferred to Seville burns unit suffering from 40 and 25% burns.
6. The Port of Algeciras offered to assist with the evacuation of the injured crew members via helicopter. The decision to evacuate the crew members to St Bernard’s Hospital was made by Gibraltar Health Authority Paramedics
7. The vessel is now to the east of Gibraltar unable to anchor at present but in constant contact with Gibraltar VTS. The vessel is stable and fully operational with the exception of its anchor equipment. The GPA will continue to work with the ship’s crew and its agents to assist in repairs, provisioning and, if possible, anchoring.
8. The GPA can confirm that the CSSC Cape Town is loaded with 112,365 metric tonnes of coal, loaded at Curtis Bay Coal Terminal in the United States. This cargo does not represent a danger to the vessel or to other vessels in the immediate vicinity. The cargo is classed as non-dangerous under the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (also known as the FAL Convention).
9. Technicians will shortly attend the vessel to try to repair the vessel’s anchor system. Classification and flag state representatives and surveyors will also attend to carry out their own investigations aboard the vessel. It is also anticipated that additional crew will be brought to replace those injured.
10. The CSSC CAPE TOWN is flagged in Hong Kong. It was built in 2020. It carried 19 crew. The crew members aboard the vessel are all Chinese nationals. Its last port of call was Baltimore in the United States of America. Its next port of call is listed as Port Said in Egypt.
The Gibraltar Port Authority extends its gratitude to all agencies, authorities and individuals who have assisted in dealing with this incident. The GPA also extends it gratitude to the Port of Algeciras for its kind offer of assistance in dealing with the casualties sadly involved in this incident.
More information will be provided when available.