A massive cargo ship carrying thousands of brand new Nissan cars remains ablaze and adrift in a remote corner of the Pacific Ocean after a catastrophic fire broke out on New Years Eve, according to the Associated Press. Nearby merchant vessels responded to the distress call and rescued 16 crew members, while another five mariners are presumed dead.
The disaster is unfolding 2,000 miles northwest of Hawaii, where the Panama-flagged Sincerity Ace is listing, slowly drifting to the southeast, and at risk of sinking after its 21-member crew was forced to abandon ship just a few days into its journey from Japan to Honolulu. United States Coast Guard officials in Hawaii first received word about a “significant” fire on board early Monday morning, the exact cause of which has yet to be determined.
With the location out of helicopter range and the nearest rescue ships days away, the Coast Guard activated the AMVER (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue) alert system to request assistance from any private vessels in the area. Though the Sincerity Ace had drifted out of a shipping lane, five cargo ships responded and managed to save sixteen of the crew. An aerial search involving two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules and a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon was also launched to look for additional survivors.