HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 650-foot car carrier that erupted in flames on New Year’s Eve has about 3,500 Nissan vehicles on board, according to a new report.
Automotive News reports that the Sincerity Ace was sailing from Japan to Hawaii when a massive blaze ripped through the ship, with 21 crew members aboard.
The new details come as the Coast Guard announced late Wednesday the search for one missing mariner was suspended.
“Following the conclusion of morning and afternoon searches by our aircraft and commercial vessels we suspended the active search. This is always a difficult decision and takes many factors into account,” said Chief Petty Officer Dennis Vetrano, with Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. "We extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of the crewmembers affected by this tragedy.”
The Coast Guard confirmed five men ended up overboard in 17-foot seas after there were problems deploying a life raft.
Some 16 sailors were rescued while four others are presumed dead after being found unresponsive in the water.
Darrell Wilson is a spokesman for the company that owns the Sincerity Ace. He told HNN that Shoei Kisen Co. Ltd. has contracted a tug boat to help.
It was dispatched from Japan and should arrive in the area on Monday.
Although weather conditions have greatly improved, West says the ships that are in the area have no way to safely recover the sailors who are presumed dead.
“The vessels that are responding to this are all big merchant vessels,” he said. “There’s not really a good way to pull someone out of the water if they aren’t actually gripping onto the life rings themselves.”
Wilson said the company’s thoughts and prayers are with the crew of the ship and their families. He told HNN out of respect they’re not yet releasing the identities of the missing.
Wilson confirms all 21 sailors who were aboard the vessel are from the Philippines.
The 16 survivors are scattered on board different cargo ships that aided in the rescue. The Coast Guard has provided those boats with food and other supplies.
“In this type of situation where it’s such a remote region and so far away from anything else," West said.
"They were the only ones who could get there and make a difference and we are very grateful that they’ve taken their time, these good Samaritans on these merchant vessels to help us in this situation,” said West.
Officials said the rescued sailors have not yet been interviewed about what led to the fire. There is also no word yet on what port they’re headed to.