The ship, which spilled more than a hundred freight containers off the coast of Washington and then caught fire, made it safely into port.
The same cannot be said of much of the Zim Kingston’s cargo.
Two months after leaving the South Korean Busan, the Zim Kingston docked in the port of Nanaimo on the Canadian island of Vancouver on Saturday.
The workers began the delicate job of unloading at least 58 damaged containers one after the other.
Rough seas and days of fire had deformed the neat stacks of “sea cans” into overhanging stacks of crumpled steel.
After the Zim Kingston spilled an estimated 107 containers in the Pacific about 40 miles off the tip of the Olympic Peninsula on October 22, she headed for calmer waters. It anchored in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 4 miles from Victoria, British Columbia and 24 miles from Port Angeles, Washington.
A number of damaged shipping containers caught fire while anchoring. At least two more fell overboard.
Four containers washed up near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, scattering more than 30 tons of trash, including 71 refrigerators, on wilderness beaches near Cape Scott Provincial Park.
RELATED: Ship That Spilled Over 100 Containers Could Have Weathered the Storm in Protected Waters
But there is no trace of the other 105 containers that fell overboard. They are believed to have sunk to the ocean floor, most of them to the continental shelf, 450 to 600 feet below the surface of the Pacific.
Nanaimo Harbor Master Captain Satinder Singh said he was excited to have the Zim Kingston in Nanaimo Harbor, which does not normally handle ships that are so large.
“This is an anomaly for us,” said Singh. âWe do this because no other port has been able to. The port of Vancouver was too busy with other ships. “
Singh said the Zim Kingston will continue to be “a convenient port” to unload its remaining estimated 1,800 containers.
Before the ship lost its containers, satellite tracking data showed it had been moving slowly in a hold on the open Pacific for about 20 hours. Heavy seas from a major storm tilted the 850-foot ship 35 degrees, causing containers to tumble from their high piles.
Although the port congestion made the Zim Kingston wait for a berth in the port of Vancouver, the captain could have sailed her into the protected waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, KUOW reported in October. Other ships, waiting for safe places to moor or anchor at the time, overcame the storm by making slow loops on a 25-mile ârace trackâ there.
Canada’s Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the disaster. According to the agency, the investigation can take up to 450 days.
The fire was apparently caused by dangerous, self-igniting cargo in at least two containers – including 57 tons of a mining chemical called potassium amylxanthate. A flammable gas is produced on contact with water or water vapor.
While some of the remaining containers contain hazardous materials, Singh said they are a long way from the rows of damaged containers being unloaded.
“It is the safest ship in Nanaimo right now, considering all the security teams and all the salvage teams involved,” said Singh.
The Canadian Coast Guard and ship owner Danaos Shipping of Greece are planning sonar surveys to locate the sunken canisters.
“You have to wait for a weather opportunity to do the scan,” Canadian Coast Guard spokeswoman Michelle Imbeau said in an email.
Imbeau did not say whether Danaos needs to remove the sunken containers from the sea.
All attempts to save her will not be easy.
Where the ship spilled its cargo, nautical charts show unexploded ammunition and underwater cables that dot the seabed like confetti and streamers.
Although salvage in deeper waters becomes more difficult and expensive, heavy objects can be salvaged from deep sea depths.
In March, the U.S. Navy retrieved a sunken Sikorsky Seahawk helicopter off the coast of Japan under 3.075 feet, or 3.6 miles, of sea water.