Greater ChinaOperationsTankers

Giant tanker explosion rocks outlying island off Hong Kong

The 2010-built product tanker Aulac Fortune caught fire following a massive explosion onboard near Hong Kong’s Lamma Island at around 11:30am this morning.

The 17,500 dwt vessel arrived in Hong Kong from Dongguan earlier in the morning before the explosion occurred in the dangerous goods anchorage south of Lamma.

Local authorities sent out rescue boats, firefighting vessels and a helicopter for the rescue operations and managed to save 24 crew who jumped or fell from the ship. Local reports suggest at least one seafarer is dead and three others are missing. The crew was made up of Vietnamese plus one Singaporean.

Locals reported hearing a huge explosion and the windows of nearby apartments shook, according to accounts on social media.

“The patio doors shook like they did in the big typhoon,” one Lamma resident told local media, adding “I thought it was an earthquake. It must have been a huge explosion.” Residents on other islands up to 15 miles away could hear the explosion.

The vessel is owned by Vietnamese company Aulac JSC, which operates a fleet of eight tankers of similar sizes.

The vessel started to capsize after the explosion. Firefighting and search operations are still ongoing.

The explosion occurred to the south of Lamma Island, near Turtle Beach, one of very few nesting grounds in southern China for endangered sea turtles.

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.


  1. At 17,500 tonnes deadweight, this is a LONG way from being a giant tanker …in fact it’;s practically a minnow. As for the cause, any number of possibilities as yet, depending on what she was carrying.
    What is MOST disturbing, to me at least, is the almost offhand manner in which the fact that four seafarers most probably lost their lives is reported. There is more emphasis on windows being rattled in shoreside apartments, for crying out loud !

  2. While the tanker might be small, the explosion was very large indeed – hence the reference to windows being shattered, etc

  3. Oh and of course the possibility of an oil spill is BY FAR the most important consideration, isn’t it ?
    More and more in this day and age, I wonder how it is that people in one of the world’s most dangerous professions are constantly treated WITH SUCH DISDAIN. If the ships were suddenly to stop trading, how long would it be, I wonder, before people ashore finally realised just how important a contribution is made by shipping around the world. When they flick a switch, for example, and nothing happens because there is no fuel for the power station …or when they switch on the ignition of their car and realise the fuel tank is empty …….

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