A small explosion Thursday afternoon rendered inoperable a 653-foot bulk carrier traveling 120 miles away from the mouth of the Columbia River.
The explosion on the Federal Iris — a Panamanian ship — destroyed the main propulsion system, but none of the 21 crew members were injured. It was caused by a malfunction of diesel engine components, according to a press release from the Coast Guard.
The ship was headed from a port in China toward Longview, Washington, to pick up cargo before the explosion occurred. A tow vessel based in Neah Bay responded to the scene Friday to pull the ship to Seattle. The tow was expected to take about 48 hours to reach the city.
“Our primary concern now is the safety of the vessel and the crew aboard,” said Capt. Tom Griffitts, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland. “Inspectors from our unit will ensure the vessel can safely operate before it continues operating in U.S. waters.”
The ship’s operations were limited prior to the explosion due to reduced propulsion and an inoperable ballast water treatment system. The Coast Guard said it will ensure regulations were followed as part of the inspection.