The Emma Maersk
, until recently the largest containership in the world, has been taken out of service after its engine room flooded and the vessel lost power.
The ship was transiting the Suez Canal Friday on a voyage from Europe to Asia when the incident occurred.
It is currently discharging cargo at the Suez Canal Container Terminal and cargo will be placed on other Maersk ships for transport to Asia. The ship was carrying 13,537 TEUs, 6,425 TEUs of which were loaded with cargo. The ship has a capacity of 15,550 TEUs.
Michael Storgaard, a spokesman for the Danish shipping company, said divers examined the ship on Sunday and found the flooding was caused by damage to one of the stern thrusters.
Stern and bow thrusters are auxillary propulsion units that allow ships to dock more easily and can reduce or even eliminate the need for tugboat assistance in some cases.
Storgaard said the cause of the damage is unknown at this point, but the ship is expected to be out of service for perhaps months. It is not known if the repairs will have to be done in a drydock or completed at dockside.
He said the engine room is still completely flooded. Seawater is not immediately being emptied from the engine room because it is believed that corrosion would be worse if parts were immediately exposed to oxygen, he added.
"We have never ever experienced this before" said Storgaard, noting the Emma Maersk
and other PS Class vessels have been operating since 2006.
The ship was never in danger of capsizing or sinking. Storgaard said these ships are designed to stay afloat even with a fully flooded engine room. - Chris Dupin