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Status of Troops' Cars, Household Goods Unknown After Cargo Ship Fire

Service members are frustrated over the long wait times in the delivery of personal vehicles overseas (Source: DoD)

A cargo ship carrying military family vehicles and household goods caught fire late Feb. 23 as it left Southampton, United Kingdom, on its way to the U.S., Defense Department officials said.

The M/V Honor, operated by American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier (ARC), was set to arrive in Baltimore on March 27, according to the company's schedule. The onboard fire started shortly after the ship's departure from Southampton, officials said. The ship's CO2 fire suppression system was deployed to extinguish the blaze, according to officials with Surface and Distribution Command, which manages troop permanent change of station moves.

Officials said they don't yet know how many troops'' shipments may be affected or the extent of the fire damage. Military families and service members whose property was on the ship haven't yet been notified of the fire, officials said. Military officials in Europe were told about the fire late Monday.

"No one has been notified as of yet," said Fred Rice, a spokesman, for the command.

No crew members were injured during the incident, and the ship remained under its own power as it returned to Southampton, Rice said.

The damage to the ship or its cargo cannot be investigated until a ventilation process has been completed and British authorities give the OK to enter the impacted cargo holds, according to an ARC press release. Once that all-clear is given, Rice said, they will have more information on how many service members are impacted, if any.

"Confirmation of whether service member property was involved in the fire will not be known until the cargo hold assessment is completed later this week at the earliest," he said.

A 2015 ARC fire on the M/V Courage destroyed 220 service members' cars and left 25 household goods shipments with smoke damage. Rice said although the extent of the damage to the Honor is still unknown, the fire was nowhere near the scale of that on the Courage.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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