Car carrier, Sincerity Ace, a Panamanian-flagged vessel caught fire 1,800 nautical miles (2,071 statute miles) northwest of Oahu Tuesday 1st January 2019 during a voyage from Japan to Honolulu.
Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Honolulu received the initial notification of situation from JRCC Japan at 1:04 a.m. on Monday, December 31. The master of the Sincerity Ace reported a significant fire on board, ongoing firefighting efforts, and an intent to abandon ship.
Watchstanders in Honolulu immediately issued a SafetyNet broadcast requesting the assistance of vessels in the area and directed the launch of the Hercules aircrews from Air Station Barbers Point.
The 650-foot (199-meter) Sincerity Ace is a Panamanian-flagged car carrier and was on a voyage from Yokohama, Japan to Honolulu, Hawaii. The ship was built in 2009 and has capacity of 6,400 vehicles. It is managed by Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd.
Good Samaritans from four merchant vessels were able to rescue 16 of the 21 Sincerity Ace crew
“We are thankful for the assistance the crews of these merchant vessels have given us during this event significantly reducing possible response time,” said Lt. Duane Zitta, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. “Their quick actions provided for the rescue of 16 members of the crew who would otherwise still be in the water and are continuing to aid us.”
Four missing mariners were located but remain in the water as they were unresponsive and unable to react to life-saving equipment, USCG explained.
Search efforts for the remaining missing crew member were suspended on Wednesday 2nd January, according to the US Coast Guard.
“Following the conclusion of morning and afternoon searches by our aircraft and commercial vessels we suspended the active search,” said Chief Petty Officer Dennis Vetrano, with Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu.
Commercial tugs were dispatched to the Sincerity Ace earlier in the week. The vessel remains uncrewed and adrift.
At last report, the vessel was listing to starboard. Shoei Kisen Kaisha confirmed that the ship is still on fire in the Pacific Ocean, around 1,800 nautical miles west of Honolulu. The cause of the fire and the disposition of the cargo remain unknown.