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Hellenic Coast Guard Reports Fuel Spill From Wrecked Freighter

file oil slick
File image courtesy National Archive

Published Aug 31, 2021 11:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

Authorities in Greece are monitoring pollution from the Togo-flagged freighter Sea Bird, which struck a rock and went down off the islet of Karavia on Saturday. 

On Saturday, the Sea Bird was under way from Ukraine to Tunisia, heading southwest through the Myrtoan Sea. At about 0300 hours local time, she struck a rock about 0.2 nm to the northeast of Karavia, an uninhabited islet about 70 nm to the south of Athens.

The vessel quickly sank, and all 16 members of her crew were safely rescued by nearby good samaritans. The Hellenic Coast Guard helped return them to shore at the port of Monemvasia. 

On Monday, the Greek Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy's environmental department reported signs of pollution from the wreck, including a fuel slick and iridescent spots about 3-5 nm to the south of the vessel's last position. The ministry notified port authorities in localities that might be affected by the oil release, including the local government on the island of Spetses, an affluent vacation-home community north of the wreck site.

The European Maritime Safety Agency has activated the pollution-control vessel Aktea to respond to the casualty. Three additional anti-pollution boats from the Hellenic Coast Guard and three privately-contracted tugs are participating in the cleanup effort, the agency said. The coast guard is carrying out daily overflights to monitor the extent of the spill, and it reported good progress in controlling the slick.

The aging Sea Bird was a 7,600 dwt freighter built in 1985 and registered in Togo. 28 out of the 30 port state control inspections the vessel underwent since 2015 recorded multiple deficiencies, from missing charts to faulty lifeboats to oil record book irregularities.