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It could easily have happened here...

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  • It could easily have happened here...

    Pollution watch as ship beaches

    French Coastguard Tug towing Napoli, with UK Coastguard tug in the background.

    Coastguards and anti-pollution teams are on alert after a ship carrying potentially dangerous chemicals was beached off the Devon coast.
    The MSC Napoli, which was holed in storms on Thursday, was run aground following "serious structural failure".

    The ship is carrying almost 2,400 containers, about 150 of which are said to hold hazardous chemical substances.

    Fifty containers were thrown into the sea on Saturday, but it is not thought they contained hazardous goods.

    Protective boom

    The ship's 26-man crew was rescued by helicopter on Thursday after it developed two long gashes on each side just above the water line in stormy weather.

    The sun sets on the MSC Napoli as the salvage operation prepares to get underway

    The drifting vessel was being towed to Portland Harbour in Dorset for a salvage operation, but the Maritime and Coastguard Agency decided to beach it in Lyme Bay, near Branscombe, instead, following the structural failure.

    It is now firmly aground but rolling in storms, an MCA spokesman said. Two French coastguard tugs are holding the ship in place.

    Chris Lawson of the Environment Agency said containers holding the most hazardous substances, such as pesticides, were in the cargo hold of the boat, and there was "very little risk" of them leaking.

    The rescue team has been using the high tide to edge the Napoli closer to shelter whilst weighing it down by pumping in sea water as ballast.

    The ship has been surrounded by a 1km (0.6 mile) oil-protection boom to protect the sea from any possible pollution.

    Mr Lawson said the priority was to safeguard approximately 3,000 tonnes of fuel on board and pump it out of the vessel over the next two to three days.

    An MCA spokesman said the environmental sensitivities in the Lyme Bay area had been fully assessed before the decision to run it into the ground.

    The ship's cargo - starting with potentially hazardous materials - will now be taken ashore from the ship's current position by salvage crews.

    "The oils will be the first priority, the ship's bunkers, fuel oil, and then the containers which are considered most hazardous first," said the MCA's Paul Coley.

    The 275m (900ft), 62,000-tonne Napoli is registered in London and owned by the Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Company.

    It was last inspected by the MCA in May 2005 when officials said it met safety standards.

    If this had happened of our coasts, we have no similar tugs to prevent it drifting aimlessly, and perhaps striking our rockier coastline, causing a major ecological disaster.

    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

  • #2
    The Tug looks alot like the vessels the Norwegian Coast Guard have ordered for exactly this purpose.

    They are badly needed here - of course no one seems to be making an issue of this in the upper echelons of power, and wont until there's a disaster.

    Goldie, who would you like to see operate them?


    • #3
      Simple really, either contract the ETV job out to a competent towing company under the responsibility of the Coastguard, as is the case in the UK, or alternatively, let the Naval service operate them. However ocean towing is a very dangerous task, best left to those with a background in it. It would take a while for the NS to build up the required skill base for this task. While frequently the NS is involved in the towing of smaller vessels, towing large ships such as the vessel above is a whole other matter.

      Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


      • #4
        They were talking about it on Sky News this morning.

        The reporter (live around 8.30 this morning) was talking about how rough the seas were at this point (again 8.30 this morning). I've been in rougher baths!

        Its happened here in the past, a couple of tankers spring to mind.

        IMHO some of the NS vessels should have a bollard tow up to a small/medium limit and the contract emergency cover from eg the MCA.


        • #5
          Most of them are capable of the towing up to a certain limit, but serious towing requires a different ship design. The tow should be as close to the ships CofG as possible.

          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


          • #6
            Containers have begun washing up on the Devon and Cornwall coast. One lucky beachcombing punter is now the owner of a Free BMW motorcycle.

            From Beach Bay To EBay
            Updated: 02:18, Tuesday January 23, 2007

            Plunder from the stricken cargo ship in Devon has already begun to appear on the internet auction site EBay.

            Hundreds of scavengers have taken to the beach at Branscombe Bay by firelight last night in a spectacle described as "like a scene from Mad Max".

            Police have warned that it could be a criminal offence to keep any of the cargo from the MSC Napoli .

            But that has not deterred people from making off with wine, nappies, hair products, car parts - and even motorbikes.

            Opportunists pick up £15,000 bike Sophia Exelby, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), who is the 'receiver of wreck', said those who fail to report any goods could be fined up to £2,500.

            She said: "The legal position is that anything which is washed ashore is 'wreck' and that still belongs to the wreck owner.

            "If anybody has already made recoveries from the wreck they are obliged by law to report to the recoverer of wreck."

            The crowds were apparently ignoring warnings that some of the containers may contain hazardous chemicals.

            Hundreds scour the beach The Napoli has about 2,400 containers on board and some are carrying materials like battery acid, ethanol and pesticides.

            Mark Clark, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), said up to 40 containers have come ashore.

            The ship was travelling between Antwerp and Durban, South Africa, when it ran into trouble last week.

            Navy helicopters rescued its 26 crew members, 40 miles off Lizard Point, Cornwall, after a hole in its side flooded the engine room and stalled the ship.

            The vessel was being towed to Portland when a "severe structural failure" forced the salvage teams to beach it about a mile offshore.

            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.