Monday, 22 January 2007

The Napoli salvage and AIS

Interesting to keep an eye on operations from one of the several AIS sites on the web these days. For anyone not in the know, AIS is a system carried by commercial vessels that transmits a whole load of information about position, course and status. The Napoli is the yellow mark closely attended by the anchor-handling vessel Anglian Princess. MTS Valour is a tug owned by MTS Group of Falmouth. Not large - only just over 23m long and with a 22 ton bollard pull.
MSC Napoli - Keeping the politicians away seems to be working

In the wake of the Sea Empress oil spill off South Wales in 1996, Lord Donaldson's major review of UK salvage policy concluded that it would be vital in future incidents to keep politicians away from decision making. A single post to take charge of operations in incidents that threatened a significant risk of pollution in UK waters was recommended; the post was titled SOSREP (Secretary of State for Transport's Representative), it was filled in 1999 by Robin Middleton. Robin has stayed in post since then and is now heading salvage operations on MSC Napoli.

Consensus so far is that beaching her has been the wisest course of action; the only oil tanks that apear to have been ruptured so far are possibly the 'day' and settling tanks in the engine room and maybe some bilge wash. It could have been much worse; a huge oil slick and over 2,000 containers floating in the Channel.

It's not over yet. Unloading the boxes is going to be very tricky with the list she's got. And the bunker oil from her main tanks still has to be pumped out. Her stern is reported as being fast on the seabed, but her bows float; with a structural crack like she has, keeping her in one piece will also be a challenge.

Hats off to Robin and the team so far.