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The Kitano is a Japanese container ship.[1][2] She was launched in Japan, in 1990.

2001 fire

The Kitano left the Port of New York at 730am on 21 March 2001.[1][2] At 1600 am the Kitano's crew observed that a container had caught fire. The container that caught fire contained 14 tons of activated carbon pellets impregnated with potassium hydroxide (caustic potash). Most of the pellets were in open mesh bags on wooden pallets.

Two nearby containers were: "...loaded with barrels of camphene-90 wax, a class 4.1 dangerous cargo."

At 1636 the Kitano requested assistance. Halifax was the nearest port. Search and rescue aircraft were dispatched, as were several surface vessels, the CFAV Firebird, the CCGS Earl Grey and the CCGC Sambro. When the vessels were dispatched the wind was at force 8. The weather conditions proved too extreme for the Canadian Armed Forces dedicated fireboat, 140 ton Firebird to leave harbour. The Canadian Coast Guard vessels arrived, but were the weather prohibited anything beyond standing by. HMCS Moncton and HMCS Goose Bay arrived on several hours later. CCGS Sir William Alexander arrived at 500am the next morning.

The vessels Japanese owners contracted with for assistance from Secunda Marine Services, the owners of the ocean-going salvage tug Ryan Leet.

Because of the danger of the fire spreading to the containers filled with camphene-90 wax the it was not considered safe to allow the Kitano to enter harbour for almost 24 hours.

Because of the weather the Kitano's crew had been fighting the fire without assistance for 25 hour before they received any outside assistance.

The fire was extinguished by 2215. The content of fifteen containers had been damaged by the fire or by the fire fighting efforts. The Kitano departed Halifax on March 26, 2001 with the rest of her cargo.

Gross Tonnage 50618
Length 288.31 m
Draught 13.025 m
Built 1990
Propulsion 31,538 kW, single screw
Crew 22
Cargo capacity 3618 twenty foot equivalent units


  1. 1.0 1.1 Marine Investigation Report, Container Fire, Container Vessel Kitano, Off Chebucto Head, Nova Scotia, 22 March 2001, Transportation Safety Board of Canada, 2003-01-28. Retrieved on 2008-02-13. “The wind and sea conditions stopped the fire tug CFAV Firebird from proceeding beyond the middle harbour and prevented the other surface SAR vessels from getting alongside the vessel for any length of time to assist.”
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Marine Investigation Report, Container Fire, Container Vessel Kitano, Off Chebucto Head, Nova Scotia, 22 March 2001: Summary, Transportation Safety Board of Canada, 2003-01-28. Retrieved on 2008-02-13.