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Turbocharger Breakdown Disables Maersk Container Ship

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The Laura Maersk was being towed to Elizabeth, New Jersey, on Monday after an engine room fire that injured one crew member.

The container ship was en route from Algeciras, Spain, to Elizabeth on Thursday night when there was a "severe turbocharger breakdown in the engine room," said Tom Boyd, media relations manager for Maersk North America. 

"A minor fire was promptly extinguished" and the crew member was medevaced by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, Boyd said.

The Coast Guard said it medevaced the crewman Friday morning from the ship's location about 275 miles off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that it received a report Thursday night "that an explosion occurred in the engine room of the cargo ship Laura Maersk, which burned a crew member and disabled the vessel."

Because of the distance from Air Station Elizabeth City, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter had to land on the USS Mahan and refuel before continuing to the Laura Maersk and hoisting the injured crew member into the helicopter for transport to Norfolk Sentara General Hospital, the Coast Guard said.

Boyd said Monday the crewman was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries and was expected to be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday.

The Laura Maersk, which sails under the flag of Denmark, was built in 2001. It has a capacity of 4,258 twenty-foot equivalent units and sails on the ECUMED service, which departs for Ecuador from Yuzhny, Ukraine, with a call at Newark. 

"The cause of the turbocharger breakdown is unknown at this time and an investigation is underway. There is no further damage to the vessel and all cargo is intact. The vessel is 280 nautical miles from New York, using auxiliary generators for operations on board while being towed to Elizabeth," Boyd said Monday. "Cargo contingencies and inland connections are being evaluated."

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