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Press Release | July 11, 2023

Unified Command transitions from shipboard fire response to investigation and salvage operations at Port Newark

To view and download a video of the press conference, click the above thumbnail.

Editor's Note: Click here to download response imagery.

PORT NEWARK, New Jersey – The Unified Command consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Newark Fire Department, and Gallagher Marine Systems has successfully concluded shipboard fire response operations at Port Newark and is transitioning to the investigation and salvage operations.

As of this morning, the fire has been extinguished. 

“I want to share our heartfelt condolences once again to families of Newark firefighters Augusto Acabou and Wayne Brooks Jr., as well as to their colleagues, their fellow first responders, and the community they both lived in and served,” said Capt. Zeita Merchant, the captain of the port of New York and New Jersey and federal on-scene coordinator. “Their selfless sacrifice is on the minds of all involved in the response and we will never forget their acts of courage.”

The prompt, efficient response to the shipboard fire incident demonstrated the organization's commitment to protecting lives, property, and the environment. Through the coordinated efforts of dedicated personnel and the utilization of specialized equipment, the fire was contained and extinguished, minimizing potential risks and damages.

As the fire response phase concludes, the focus now shifts towards investigation and salvage operations. The Coast Guard, along with its partner agencies, will work diligently to assess and mitigate any remaining risks or any remaining impact to port operations, and to determine the cause of the incident.

Salvage operations will encompass the safe removal and recovery of the affected vessel, with the primary objective of minimizing any potential impact on the environment. Response teams will carefully plan and execute the salvage operation, prioritizing the preservation of marine ecosystems and ensuring the safety of the personnel involved.

Concurrent with salvage operations, a comprehensive formal investigation will be launched to determine the root causes and contributing factors leading to the shipboard fire. The investigation will be led by the Coast Guard in tandem with federal, state, and local entities including the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Jersey State Fire Marshal, New Jersey State Police, Newark Fire Arson Division, Essex County Prosecutor and a host of safety agencies to ensure we gain a critical and necessary understanding of the incident. The findings of the investigation will be vital in preventing similar incidents in the future and enhancing maritime safety and security protocols.

The safety and security of the maritime infrastructure remain paramount, and the Unified Command is committed to upholding its mission to protect the nation's maritime interests. The transition from shipboard fire response to salvage and investigation operations at Port Newark highlights the dedication, professionalism, and resilience of its personnel and partners.

The Coast Guard will provide regular updates regarding the progress of salvage operations, investigation findings, and any necessary actions to ensure the ongoing safety and security of maritime operations at Port Newark.

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