Coast Guard Coordinating Assistance For Merchant Vessel Fire

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The U.S. Coast Guard is coordinating assistance for the crew of a merchant vessel reportedly battling an on-board fire 1,200 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., today.

The 577-foot Panamanian-flagged merchant vessel Sea Venus, with a crew of 23, was en route from Rhode Island to Belgium when the fire reportedly started.

Coast Guard watch standers at Rescue Coordination Center Norfolk, located in Portsmouth, Va., detected a satellite distress signal from Sea Venus’ electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) around 7:30 a.m. this morning and are coordinating assistance using an aircraft and vessel from the Canadian Navy, and two merchant vessels, the Challenge Plus and Olympian Highway.

In Canada, watch standers at RCC Halifax notified RCC Norfolk they had established voice communications with the Sea Venus’ crew who initially reported that the engine room fire had been extinguished with the ship’s automatic CO2 systems and they didn’t need assistance, but in a subsequent distress call from the ship they reported the fire had re-flashed, the CO2 system had been depleted, and the crew was fighting the blaze with water and hand-held extinguishers.

The Sea Venus reports that it has two life rafts onboard but does not intend to abandon ship at this time. The vessels and aircraft assisting the Sea Venus are scheduled to be on scene later this afternoon.

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