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Car carrier Sincerity Ace on fire and adrift in the Pacific Ocean

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


At about 1:04 a.m. Hawaii time on December 31, 2018, the captain of the Sincerity Ace reported they were dealing with a serious fire and said they were abandoning ship. The ship’s initial communication with the Coast Guard included a report that the crew was able to launch one of the life rafts and four of the 21 mariners abandoned ship with lifejackets. The Coast Guard could not confirm if they reached the life raft upon entering the water.

Watchstanders in Honolulu issued a SafetyNet broadcast requesting the assistance of vessels in the area and directed the launch of Hercules aircrews from Air Station Barbers Point. These Coast Guard aircrews and five merchant vessels came to their aid. Merchant vessels were able to rescue 16 of the 21 crewmembers. Lt. Duane Zitta from the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu thanked the merchant marine crews, saying:

“We are thankful for the assistance the crews of these merchant vessels have given us during this event, significantly reducing possible response time. 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.”

Two Sincerity Ace crewmembers missing, three presumed dead

Two crewmembers remain missing, three are presumed dead. These three crewmembers were located in the water but could not be recovered because they were non-responsive. Search efforts focus on the two remaining potential survivors. The search area covers 5,832 square nautical miles.

Rescuers include:

  • Merchant vessel crews from the New Century 1 and the Genco Augustus
  • Two Coast Guard Hercules helicopter aircrews from Station Barbers
  • Navy 7th Fleet P-8 Poseidon aircrew
  • The crews of the Green Lake, the SM Eagle, and the Venus Spirit also participated in search and rescue operations but have resumed normal operations as of January 2, 2019.

The commercial vessels are part of AMVER, or Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System. It is a global voluntary reporting system sponsored by the Coast Guard. AMVER is a worldwide system that search and rescue authorities use to help people at sea who are in distress.

650-foot ship on fire, adrift in Pacific Ocean

The ship is adrift in the Pacific Ocean and still on fire as of January 2, 2019. Owned by Shoei Kisen Co. Ltd., the ship carries 6,400 cars. It was built in 2009. The fire was reported when the 650-foot ship was 1,800 nautical miles northwest of Oahu. It was on its way to Honolulu from Japan.

The owners of the ship have been coordinating with the merchant vessels to transport the mariners safely home. In addition to getting the crew home, the Sincerity Ace’s owners are also formalizing their plan to salvage the ship. Commercial tugs are on their way to retrieve the ship.

The cause of the fire remains unknown.

Crew of Sincerity Ace deserves answers and help

The crew of the Sincerity Ace deserve answers and help. Some of the questions they and their loved ones are sure to ask include:

  • How did the fire start?
  • Was the ship seaworthy?
  • Could the fire have been prevented?
  • Why did four crewmembers abandon ship in lifejackets and not in a lifeboat?
  • Why was the crew only able to use one lifeboat?
  • Will the company take care of their medical bills?

Laws protecting mariners are different in each country, but if this crew was American or if the ship was American, the crew could get answers by filing a Jones Act claim. The families of the deceased crewmembers would be able to get answers by filing a Death on the High Seas claim.

These claims do more than protect their legal rights. They give survivors and families answers, justice, and vindication. They empower survivors and families to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence. They help people change companies’ behavior for the better and help prevent future disasters. To find out how we help survivors and families of mariners who have lost their lives at sea, call us at 877-724-7800.