Mauritius and Reunion Report Drifting Oil Tanker is Repaired
Officials on both the islands of Mauritius and Reunion are breathing a sigh of relief today after a nearly week-long vigil over a broken-down product tanker in their region. While the vessel never came in close range with either island, both nations had been put on alert, offering assistance to the tanker while also reporting that it should not be entering their economic zones.
The 105,715 dwt Ocean Pride 1 is reported loaded with a cargo of 100,000 tons of oil traveling from Curacao and due to arrive in Port Louis, Mauritius. Last Friday, September 2, officials on Reunion that monitor all ocean traffic identified a potential issue with the vessel. They report that their system tracks the more than 12,000 ships each year that enter the zone around Reunion. They suspected that the tanker was experiencing a problem and contacted the vessel.
The captain reported that one of the vessel’s engines was experiencing a problem that they were attempting to correct. News reports said the engineer identified a loss of air pressure without providing more specific details on the problems aboard the 23-year-old tanker. The vessel is registered in Sierra Leone and reported to be owned by Indian interests.
The maritime authority on Mauritius also became concerned and declared a maximum maritime alert as the tanker was drifting at a slow speed west in the Indian Ocean. Its position was reported to be 70 nautical miles north of Reunion and 90 nautical miles west of Mauritius. The vessel, however, was not requesting assistance from the local authorities.
Yesterday evening, September 7, five days after the vessel began drifting a tug was dispatched from Port Louis carrying required spare parts for the tanker’s engine. The captain of the vessel reported that it would take between 12 to 18 hours to affect repairs to the vessel at which time they would be able to restart the engine.
The maritime authorities on both islands are reporting that the vessel was able to restart its engine. The AIS signal, however, shows that it remains mostly in position making only slow headway. Mauritian officials have reportedly told the vessel that it should depart and not enter their zone or come to Port Louis based most people believe of fears of a repeat of the 2020 disaster when the Wakashio ran aground causing the worst oil spill in the island’s history.