Marine Log

January 21, 2007

Oil leaks from beached containership

The BBC reports that the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCGA) has confirmed that some 200 tonnes of oil have leaked from a fuel tank on the containership MSC Napoli, beached off the Devon coast after a joint French and British salvage operation. A five mile long oil sheen is visible on the sea surface.

The ship has also lost some 200 containers overboard; two hold "dangerous but low-risk" goods.

The ship suffered structural damage during Thursday's storms and was deliberately beached off Branscombe to stop it sinking in deep water.

It is sharply listing and there are fears it could capsize and break up at any time.

An operation to pump the remaining oil on board is due to begin on Monday morning. The remaining containers could also then be winched off.

The ship also contains a further 3,500 tonnes of heavy fuel oil in tanks, but MCGA officials believe these have not split.

They believe 200 tonnes is close to the maximum that will leak out of the ship's engine room.

The MSC Napoli, is now lying offshore at Branscome some 2 miles from Sidmouth.

The London registered ship was at the center of a storm-lashed rescue operation in the English Channel on Thursday after it was disabled when the engine room flooded more than 40 miles from the Cornish coast.

In its distress call, the vessel reported a 1.5 meter crack in the port side in the area of the engine room.

All 26 crew were plucked to safety by Royal Navy rescue helicopters as they abandoned the ship in 40 ft seas and 70 mph winds.

At a press conference held at East Devon District Council's offices on Sunday, the Department of Transport's Robin Middleton said he was "very confident" there would be no pollution from the cargo.

Mr Middleton also stated that "The salvage plan is concerned with the oils which we deem to be the greater threat, they include diesel and 3,500 tonnes of heavy fuel oil.

"At the moment it is all contained within the vessel."

There is a 500 meter exclusion zone around the ship and all fishermen and small boats have been asked not to go out on Monday. The river Axe has been protected should there be any spillage. Coastguard and Police officers are onsite throughout the night.

This is not the first time the MSC Napoli has been grounded.

It was originally built at Samsung Heavy Industries as the CMA-CGM Normandie and entered service in January 1992 as one of the first post-Panamax containerships with a length of 275.60 m, width of 37.10 m and capacity of 4419 TEUs

According to France's CEDRE documentation center, on March 27, 2001, the then CMA-CGM Normandie was travelling from Malaysia to Indonesia at 22 knots, with a cargo of 3,312 containers (31,364 tonnes) onboard, when it hit a coral reef in the Strait of Malacca, 6 miles from Singapore. Ballast plating and roofs were torn. Two holds were completely flooded. The stern of the ship suffered water leaks through cable channels, particularly in the machinery compartment.

The ship was not refloated until 22 April, more than 60 days after the accident.

It was subsequently repaired at the Hyundai-Vinashin Shipyard (HVS) in Vietnam, requiring 3,000 tons of steel renewal.

It is likely that the repair will be one focus of attention in the investigation into the current incident involving the ship.

The 2001 grounding resulted in severe damage and deformations of the hull structure. According to a Lloyd's Agency report, the forward void space, bow thruster room, forward deep tank No 2, No 3 tank, No 3 wing ballast tank and cargo holds were breached. The duct keel was totally flooded and the bow thruster, heeling pump and emergency fire pump were damaged. A crack was found in part of the main deck and hatch coaming.

Thanks to Google's cache facility, you can access the Lloyd's Agency detailed report of the repair here.