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Captain of LPG Tanker Appears in Gibraltar Court on Pollution Charges

Gibraltar oil spill
Master of the LPG tanker that caused the spill appeared in court (Government of Gibraltar)

Published Aug 22, 2023 3:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

The captain of the LPG tanker that was involved in an oil spill during bunkering at the beginning of the month appeared in the Magistrate’s Court in Gibraltar on Monday to face pollution charges. It is the second time in months that Gibraltar has pursued charges against the master of a vessel involved in an oil spill.

The Gas Venus, a Panama-registered tanker, was refueling near the South Mole in Gibraltar Bay on August 1. The vessel was bunkering when reports said there was an overflow from one of the tanks causing the oil to run down the side of the hull creating a large black stain and entering the harbor waters. 

Local authorities at the time declined to specify how much oil they believed had been released instead focusing on the cleanup. Harbor operations were briefly suspended and despite the efforts to contain the spill it washed up in Rosia Bay and Camp Bay fouling the shoreline.

 

Oil spilled from the Gas Venus during the bunkering operation anchored off Gibraltar (Government of Gibraltar)

 

The 28,700 dwt vessel was released 10 days later. The detention order was lifted under the authority of the Captain of the Port on August 10 after the receipt by the Gibraltar Port Authority of a cash bond of $1.9 million. Officials said the bond was to ensure that the costs of all oil spill response and cleanup operations were covered.

The Korean captain of the vessel, Kim Sangsob age 56, however, was detained on August 18 and was charged with one count related to the discharge or allowing escape of oil into territorial waters. He was also charged with damaging the habitat of a European-protected wild animal species. The Royal Gibraltar Police said the charges were the result of their investigation into the cause of the oil spill without providing specific details.

The captain appeared in court and was ordered to post bail of approximately $6,300 and surrender his travel documents. The court is scheduled to reconvene on the case on Friday, August 25.

Three months ago, the captain of the wrecked bulker OS 35 was also brought up on charges related to the oil spill from his vessel. He pleaded guilty to three counts and was given a suspended sentence ten months after the incident. This master had been facing the potential of up to two years in prison for the damage resulting from the loss of the OS 35 after the bulker hit an anchored gas carrier and sunk less than 1,000 feet offshore.