Battery-laden cargo ship moors in Dutch Harbor after December fire

a ship
There is no plan to bring any cargo from the Genius Star XI, which docked Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024 after a fire aboard, into Dutch Harbor. (Maggie Nelson/KUCB)

The M/V Genius Star XI, a cargo ship that has been moored outside of Broad Bay for over a month, was brought to the Unalaska Marine Center Tuesday, a move experts said does not pose an immediate risk to the community.

The ship, full of lithium ion batteries, caught fire on Christmas Day and has since been stabilized.

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While crossing the Pacific Ocean, the Genius Star XI’s crew called in a Dec. 25, 2023 fire to the U.S. Coast Guard, and were told to reroute to Dutch Harbor. (Maggie Nelson/KUCB)

While crossing the Pacific Ocean, the Genius Star XI crew called in a fire to the Coast Guard, who told them to reroute to Dutch Harbor. There, responders boarded the vessel and contained the fire. The fire’s cause is under investigation.

This week, the Unified Command handling the situation made the decision to bring the ship shoreside. Coast Guard Captain Chris Culpepper said this will provide “a safer and more efficient environment to work and (mitigate) work delays caused by weather or rough seas.”

The Unified Command includes a federal coordinator, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and Gallagher Marine Systems on behalf of the vessel owner. The team’s liaison officer, Jim Butler, said the group has communicated with experts who agree that moving the Genius Star XI to port does not pose an undue threat to the community.

There is no plan to bring any cargo from the Genius Star XI into Dutch Harbor. In the meantime, supplies for the crew and the ship’s onboard fire fighting system are being replenished.

Butler said the 410-foot vessel will remain in port at least 72 hours but could not specify beyond that. With varied demands for dock space, particularly during fishing’s busy “A” season, the Genius Star XI’s stay could be complicated by other vessels’ needs.

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