Apr 072011

Dodgy anchoring, a small channel, a large ship and a Force 8, all the ingredients for an accident that should not have happened.

MAC’s UK correspondent Bill Redmond reveals all

A 7,000-tonne cargo ship, the Pantanal, which ran aground on the Connemara coast in the early hours of March 31 “should not have happened,” said the Irish Minister for Marine, Simon Covey, and will be investigated. Speaking in Rossaveal, the minister said: My understanding is that the captain of the ship was advised not to anchor where he anchored by the harbour master’s office here. He ignored that risk.”

Fortunately, the ship’s operator, Harren & Partner, of Bremen, arranged for two tugs to pull the beached vessel off at high tide on April 1st, which was successful and all the 16-man crew were safe with no obvious damage to the vessel following a divers’ inspection.

It could, however, have been very different. The grounding was treated as an international or “priority one” incident and protective booms were placed around the vessel with 370 tonnes of heavy marine fuel on board to contain any pollution risk.
Not heard of a lee shore?
>Registered in Newfoundland and flying the Antigua & Barbuda flag of convenience, the Pantanal arrived from the Mediterranean at Rossaveal to pick up two fast ferries, the MV Clann Eagle 1 and the MV Clann Na nOileain, formerly owned by the Badarran teoranta which went into receivership. The two ferries were to be shipped to their new owners in Mauritius.
During blustery weather with strong south-west to west winds blowing, the ship’s anchor mooring reportedly broke sometime before 6 am on March 31, and the ship was forced up a narrow channel in Casla Bay before grounding on the shoreline close to Rossaveal fishing harbour. It is every captain’s nightmare to be caught on a lee shore while not under power and so at the mercy of the elements.
Mr Coveney described the incident as a “very awkward problem,” with “ a large ship in a very shallow water, a force 8 gale forecast this evening coming from the south which is about the worst wind direction they could possibly get.”

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