Tanker Runs Aground, Barely Avoids a Major Disaster



Fifty people with seven craft spent the day monitoring the tanker, which ran aground in shallow waters near the Debeli Rtič promontory.

What happened?

Early on Sunday morning, an unusual manoeuvre by the ship was first noted. The authorities contacted the ship’s commander, who initially denied being in trouble. It turned out, however, that his ship had run aground in just 70 centimetres of water near the Debeli Rtič promontory. He had overlooked a lighthouse and caused the tanker to run aground in an area where the sea floor in rocky and silted.

Luck on Commander’s side:

All the relevant authorities were put into action, explained the head of the Maritime Administration, Jadran Klinec. “We immediately sent Port of Koper’s maritime protection team to the scene. The team put spill blockers around the ship to prevent the worse-case scenario from happening when the ship was being moved.” At 8 a.m., the ship’s commander was able to carry out a maneuver to save the ship because of the low tide. The tanker was directed to the Port of Koper, and all its cargo was unloaded. The ship travels between Koper and Trieste three times a week; it carries fuel for other ships.

Only luck prevented the sharp rocks from ripping through the ship’s hull, which could have resulted in leakage of 200 metric tons of fuel into the sea.

Investigation underway:

An investigation is underway and the ship is docked at the Port of Koper. The regional command of Civil Defense, the Maritime Administration, and the Water Agency presented some details about the accident at a press conference.

The human factor most likely to blame:

The captain of the tanker has already been debriefed by the maritime investigator. He explained that accidents tend to happen during the most run-of-the-mill operations. “He told us that his autopilot had failed. The commander is very young; he doesn’t know the ship and wasn’t able to make the right call. In this situation, he missed a mark and ran his ship aground,” explained Klinec.

When the ship was inspected, several irregularities were discovered: The fire protection pump was inoperative, as was the magnetic compass. Also, the navigation maps of the Bay of Koper were not up-to-date. Because of this, the ship has been banned from leaving the port for now.

Serious threat to environment:

It’s clear that the incident could have resulted in a major environmental disaster, said Zorka Sotlar of the Water Agency. “A spill would have caused major damage. This is a protected part of the Debeli Rtič promontory. Despite their efforts, the crews on the sea could not have prevented contamination. Such natural segments of the coast tend to be very challenging when it comes to cleaning up spills,” she explained.

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Source: RTV Slovenija



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