SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard ended an 11-day response effort to the damaged container ship MSC Idil Monday, after salvage professionals finalized temporary repairs to the ship’s hull off the coast of Puerto Rico.
The effort ended on Monday, May 21, officials announced on May 24.
The Panamanian flagged ship MSC Idil continued its transit to Freeport, Bahamas, where vessel owner Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will conduct further assessments of the ship’s condition.
“Our team of rescue boats, helicopters, cutters and Search and Rescue planners answered the call and mounted a coordinated first response,” said Capt. Drew W. Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. “As the situation stabilized we were able to work together; the Coast Guard, the MSC Idil and the salvage team, to protect those in danger from the sea and protect the sea itself.”
The 900-foot container ship suffered an onboard explosion May 11, approximately 60 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico, during the vessel’s transit to Barcelona, Spain.
The MSC Idil is investigating the cause of the explosion. The ship’s crew were able to maintain full control their cargo and prevent the discharge of pollution into the environment. The MSC Idil reportedly had 588,000 gallons of fuel oil and 62,000 gallons of diesel onboard at the time of the incident.
“The key to the success of this response was the combined effort from the U.S. Coast Guard, MSC, DonJon-Smit, Atlantic Diving, Borinquen Towing, and San Juan Towing,” said Lt. Kristen Preble, Sector San Juan Incident Management Division chief. “Their ability to quickly and effectively work together to address the safety of the crew, the ship, and the environment under demanding conditions was phenomenal.”
Among Coast Guard surface and air units that provided rescue assistance and conducted monitoring efforts throughout the response were a Boat Station San Juan 45-foot Response Boat Medium and 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcent; the Cutter’s Matinicus, Sapelo and Key Largo; Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Borinquen; and a HC-144 Ocean Sentry Aircraft from Air Station Miami.
A Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch marine patrol aircraft also participated during initial response efforts.