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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Deneb capsizes at the Port of Algeciras, Spain

Port of Spain,  the capital of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago was the happy hunting ground for touring Indians as they won their first two games easily.  Now something from Andalusia region with Seville as its capital  – an autonomous community of Spain.  Spain is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula,  bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar; to the north by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the northwest and west by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. Spain is a democracy organised in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy.  The spanish language is the world's second most spoken first language after Mandarin chinese.

By its geographical position, Spain has many ports and container ships regularly make calls.  Container ships are cargo ships that carry all of their load in truck-size intermodal containers.  Also called Cell ship these carry containers below the deck and on the deck stacked in formation and held in place by devices.    Containers are the most effective equipment in transportation, strong enough to be used several times and designed in standardised manner that one can be stacked upon another freely and without any damage to the contents inside.    There is an International convention on safety of containers.

A ship whether carrying containers or cargo in bulk or in any manner is subject to loads impacted by static weight, dynamic forces like rolling and pitching effects and internal forces due to acceleration.  Though the % of ships that sink or lose their stability is minimal, it requires great levels of calculation for the load and stowage aspects.  There are reports that operations at the port of Algeciras  were disrupted after a containership capsized at the weekend.  The Port of Algeciras is the port and harbour of Algeciras, city in the province of Cádiz, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.  It is 7th busiest container port in the continent of Europe and 32nd in the world by trade volumes.  The  current name of Algeciras seems to come from the Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.  It has a long history dating back to Roman times.  

The vessel was identified a Deneb a 508 TEU feeder vessel which capsized while berthed at APM Terminal’s container facility at the port of Algeciras.  The vessel operated  by Xpress Container Line, has reportedly  settled on the seabed on its starboard side. Three seafarers  reportedly sustained minor injuries after the container ship Deneb capsized for unknown reasons.  The port authorities claimed that the  emergency response plan was launched  and there was no pollution as a result of the casualty. The vessel was not carrying any hazardous cargo.  The capsize is bound to impact the movement of other vessels and affect the flow of people and cargo at a time. 

The container ship of 1994 make is 101M X 18M with DWT 5450 and flies a AG – Antigua Barbuda flag.    Meantime, Ecologist groups are highlighting the problem and demanding a concrete policy to fight against the dangers with more fines or the creation of a control centre of maritime traffic for the Strait which sees more than 90,000 ships crossing the area each year.   The cause is reported to be a problem of stability. An investigation is under way to establish why the vessel listed during cargo operations.

In general parlance, ‘salvage’ is the residual value of the damaged property.  But in Marine, salvage is the process of rescuing a ship, its cargo, or other property from peril. Salvage encompasses rescue towing, refloating a sunken or grounded vessel, or patching or repairing a ship. Today the protection of the environment from cargoes such as oil or other contaminants is often considered a high priority.  The individuals or Companies which render profession service in rescuing the vessel are called ‘salvors’. Remember this is at the time of  casualty at sea which could be adversely affected by many extraneous factors.   The salvors will have to utilise cranes, floating dry docks and divers to lift and repair ships for short journeys to safety towed by a tugboat.  The act of salvage is not only aimed at retrieving the damged hull or cargo but also clearing the channel for navigation and in preventing pollution hazards.   

Danish salvor Svitzer, which is owned by AP Møller Maersk, has been given the task of clearing the vessel as quickly as possible to reduce disruption at the terminal and it is apprehended that it could take more than week to refloat the vessel.  A salvage vessel, Svitzer, is currently unloading the capsized container ship.   The first step will involve removing containers fro the ship's deck and cargo holds.  After that, the salvors will pump some 118 tonnes of fuel oil and 26 tonnes of diesel from the ship's tanks. Oil pollution booms have been put in place to contain any leaks. 

Svitzer is a Professional salvaging company reputedly known for their emergency response and rescue services.  They claim to have some 30 Emergency Response and Rescue Vessels  permanently located at offshore installations, ready to deploy the Fast Rescue Craft to assist whenever and wherever they need it.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar. 


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