Fire disables tanker off Oregon coast; 1 dead

August 16, 2014 - 12:04 AM

CAPE BLANCO, Ore. (AP) — An engine-room fire has disabled a private commercial chemical tanker 700 miles off the Oregon coast, and one crew member has died, the U.S. Coast Guard said Friday.

The fire was extinguished by the vessel's own installed firefighting systems, but the 485-foot Bahamian-flagged tanker sustained damage to its generators, leaving the vessel unable to move, Petty Officer 2nd Class George Degener said.

The fire was reported to the Coast Guard on Wednesday. The fire's cause wasn't immediately known, and Degener didn't know the circumstances of the crewman's death.

The tanker left Los Angeles on Aug. 9, bound for South Korea with a cargo of propylene tetramer, a petroleum additive. The ship's cargo areas are undamaged, and there have been no reports of any pollution, Degener said.

"Right now, there is no danger reported as far as stability. The tanker is still considered safe. They are just not able to move because propulsion is damaged," Degener said.

Weather in the area is good, with clear skies, he said.

The Coast Guard cutter Stratton, which has its home port in Alameda, California, arrived on the scene Friday to help the tanker's 21 remaining crew members, who are from South Korea and China. Coast Guard marine engineers from the cutter will see if they can get the vessel moving under its own power, Degener said.

The vessel's owner has contracted with a commercial tugboat based in Anacortes, Washington. That tug is expected to reach the tanker in about three days. If the tanker can't move on its own, it will likely be towed back to a U.S. port for repairs.

Degener said he didn't know the vessel owner's name.