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Fire on Cargo Ship Affects IT Equipment Bound for ICANN57 Hyderabad

3 October 2016
By Nick Tomasso



ICANN Meetings are large-scale technical events. The visible portions like microphones, monitors and cameras are the tip of an iceberg. Beneath the surface, there are miles of cable and hundreds of pieces of equipment providing connectivity, and enabling engagement and the seamless presentation of ICANN sessions. 

Unfortunately, some of our equipment was recently impacted by a fire.

What Happened?

On 1 September 2016, an explosion caused a fire on a cargo ship docked in Hamburg, Germany. Our Public Meeting technical equipment was on board. We had two containers – a 40-foot and a 20-foot container.

It took 150 firefighters four days to extinguish the fire. The ship’s crew initially tried to extinguish the fire and sustained slight injuries. No one else was hurt. Reports indicated that welding in the cargo hold caused the incident.

The ship had departed Helsinki, Finland after ICANN56, and the equipment was bound for Hyderabad, India via Mumbai.

What Does This Means for ICANN57?

The good news is that the larger container sustained no damage. It was off-loaded to another ship soon after the incident was reported and is continuing the journey to India, due to arrive on 18 October.

The bad news is that due to its proximity to the fire, the smaller container was detained in Hamburg. This container held printers, remote participation computers, camera kits, digital signage equipment, and all network hardware and wireless equipment, including over 5 miles (8 km) of cabling.

Everyone involved is working hard to secure a quick resolution and release of our cargo. However, we have since been informed that due to maritime law, inspections by German authorities and the shipping company’s insurance adjusters could take several months to several years. This means that even if the equipment is undamaged, this container will not arrive in time for ICANN57.

How Is ICANN Responding?

We immediately put emergency contingency plans in place.  Because we have a detailed inventory of the 27 cases in the container, we began replacing the equipment. As of 26 September, we have purchased all replacement equipment that we deemed to be critical for ICANN57. 

In this worst-case scenario, our equipment vendors have committed to us to provide the critical replacement equipment for ICANN57.

What Does This Mean for ICANN57 Participants?

Our goal is to ensure a successful ICANN57 meeting in India with minimal disruption in service. However, two services will not be available as a result of the fire:

  • Interactive Remote hubs. Remote video hub operations have provided live broadcasting of participants from preapproved locations into select Main Hall sessions. Due to the complicated matrix-style setup and equipment needed to provide this service in multiple languages, ICANN cannot provide this service in time for ICANN57.  Remote participation in sessions is not affected.
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) service. Provided by Akamai, CDN servers host content from thousands of companies on a local server, which significantly improves response time of downloads and updates for participants. Without the CDN service, you will still have Internet access, but might notice slower response times for select downloads.

We believe that most ICANN57 participants will not notice a reduction in service. We appreciate your understanding as we work through the remote and content delivery issues.

If you have any questions, email mts@icann.org.

News Stories About the Incident





Nick Tomasso