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Capsized Freighter Towed into Port of Le Havre

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Image courtesy Premar Manche

By MarEx 2018-03-22 15:17:00

On Thursday afternoon, the rescue tug Abeille Liberte towed the upturned hull of the freighter Britannica Hav into the port of Le Havre and brought the wreck alongside at the Quai d'Osaka, a disused container terminal.

According to AIS data, the Liberte departed Le Havre after delivering her tow. Local outlet Paris-Normandie reports that naval divers are now cutting off the Britannica's masts so that they do not strike the bottom at low tide -  a delicate operation due to the unknown stability of the upturned hull.

Images courtesy Premar Manche

At the time of the capsizing, the Britannica Hav had a cargo of 2,000 tonnes of steel and 48 tonnes of fuel on board. The Maritime Prefecture Manche - Mer du Nord reported that the towing operation resulted in no pollution. 

The Britannica's hatch covers came loose in the capsizing and remained afloat. They are now under tow and bound for Le Havre, and are expected to arrive on Friday morning. 

On Tuesday, the 2,200 dwt freighter Britannica Hav and the fishing vessel Deborah collided about 50 nm northeast of Cherbourg. The freighter's seven crewmembers safely evacuated aboard two life rafts and were recovered by the fishing boat. A French Navy helicopter later airlifted them from the Deborah's deck and carried them to the military base at Querqueville. The master of the fishing vessel suffered a slight head injury in the collision but declined an evacuation. 

The Britannica was holed in the collision with a breach on her port side amidships, and she capsized later that day. The Regional Operational Center for Surveillance and Rescue (CROSS) in Jobourg dispatched the Bourbon-operated rescue tug Abeille Liberté and the police patrol boat Aramis to the scene to mark and monitor the wreckage. The crew of the Liberté proposed to salvage the Britannica by passing a tow line through her bow thruster tunnel, and they successfully carried out this evolution within several hours (video below).

The Deborah suffered minor damage to her bow and has reportedly returned to her home port in Belgium. Belgian authorities will investigate the circumstances behind the collision.