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Cayman Islands Call for Aid as Disabled Cargo Ship Drifts Toward Shore

cargo ship
The disabled cargo ship was drifting toward Little Cayman before it was rescued (file photo)

Published Apr 3, 2024 7:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Government of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Coast Guard put out a call for assistance on Tuesday evening after they were advised that a containership had suffered an engine failure and was drifting toward the islands. The Cayman Islands Coast Guards’ Operation Coordination Center was seeking assistance while the nearest tug from the islands was 60 nautical miles away.

The Liberian-registered containership SC Montana (33,757 dwt) reported to the authorities that the ship’s main engine was offline and that they were drifting toward the western end of Little Cayman. It is one of three islands that make up the country. 

Located approximately 60 miles northeast of Grand Cayman, it is the smallest of the islands and the least populated. The docks on both Little Cayman and nearby Cayman Brac are too small for the SC Montana.

Government officials reported they were discussing steps to mitigate a possible incident if the vessel could not be controlled. The ship which was built in 2004 and 682 feet (208 meters) in length reported that it still had generator power, but could not restart its engine. The crew advised the Caymans that they were working to slow their drift but they were in danger of running aground.

Two passing vessels, the Panama-registered cargo ship Lefkes (33,298 dwt) and the Marshall Islands-registered Aruna Cihan, responded to the call for assistance. The Lefkes was able to reach the stricken ship in time and towed it into a safer position while the port authority’s tug Navigator was also making its way to the area from Grand Cayman.

Government officials report that the crew aboard the SC Montana is safe and that the Environmental Department is continuing to monitor the situation. They are also thanking the crews of the two vessels for their assistance.