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Container Ships Collide off Chinese Coast

Maersk container vessel

Two oil container ships have collided off the coast of east China, one catching fire and the second severely damaged.

No casualties have been reported, but officials are still investigating the collision.

One of the ships, Safmarine Meru, is operated by the Denmark-based Maersk Line, while the other is German-owned Northern Jasper. The collision took place off the eastern Chinese coast port of Ningbo.

Safmarine Meru is a 4,650 TEU container vessel, built in 2006 and sailing under the Hong Kong flag. At the time of the collision, Safmarine Meru had less than 400 full containers on board and was deployed on Maersk Line’s TP18 service.

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Northern Jasper was built in 2009 and sailing under the Liberian flag. It has an 8,400 TEU capacity and is owned by Norddeutsche Reederei NAV.

"The collision caused severe damage to the Safmarine Meru and a fire broke out. The Safmarine Meru's crew of 22 people abandoned the vessel shortly after," Maersk Line said in a statement.

No oil was spilled following the collision whose circumstances are still being investigated, it added.

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Safmarine Meru had fewer than 400 full containers on board when the collision took place early on Sunday about 120 nautical miles off the coast. The ship is now afloat and anchored near the accident site, with the intervention team focusing on putting out the fire and assessing the overall damage to the ship and cargo.

“We are very relieved that our crew are safe and have not suffered any serious injuries. The safety of our people, at sea and on shore, is paramount to us,” said Palle Brodsgaard Laursen, Head of Ship Management in Maersk Line.

Maersk Line, a unit in conglomerate AP Moller-Maersk, is the world’s largest container shipping company with more than 600 vessels transporting everything from flat-screen TVs to sportswear.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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