Coast Guard, FDNY joint response to disabled tanker

The Coast Guard and Fire Department of the City of New York boarded a disabled asphalt tanker anchored outside the port for a joint safety inspection Monday.

The Hong Kong-flagged 479’ Feng Huang AO had been inbound to New York when a fire broke out in its engine room Oct. 5, 57 miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Coast Guard officials said.

The vessel’s carbon dioxide fire suppression system put the blaze down, without injuries to the crew of 21 and no reported pollution. The ship’s electrical generators and main engine were disabled, and the Legare, a 270’ Coast Guard medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Va., went to the scene to assist.

Salvage tugs were sent and got the tanker under tow early Sunday morning, with Coast Guard Sector New York personnel monitoring the towing operation through the shipping lane approaches to New York Harbor. The Feng Huang AO was anchored outside the harbor, and on Monday afternoon inspection teams from the Coast Guard and FDNY Special Operations Command boarded to assess the damage and ensure it would be safe for the vessel to enter the harbor.

“This was a significant engine room fire that damaged a number of vessel systems, and we are fortunate there were no injuries,” said Capt. Jason Tama, commander of Coast Guard Sector New York, in a statement describing the incident.

“Responding to this case required close coordination between numerous partner agencies and stakeholders to ensure the safety of the ship and the port, and to protect the environment. The assistance and expertise provided by FDNY marine firefighters was essential to the safe resolution of this case,” said Tama.

The joint operation was one more chapter in the long cooperation and training among the Coast Guard and its local partners, enabled by federal port security programs created after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“The Port Security Grant Program has funded many training evolutions for the FDNY, which has translated into the successful multi-agency execution during this live event,” said John Esposito, FDNY Chief of Special Operations. “The collaboration during this incident exemplifies the importance of strong relationships between the FDNY and the Coast Guard.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Coast Guard officials said.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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