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Swedish Prosecutor Releases Scot Carrier’s Chief Officer

colliion between Danish barge and British registered cargo ship
Danish barge is leaking oil as it began to sink on December 15 (Swedish Coast Guard)

Published Dec 15, 2021 3:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

Swedish prosecutors decided after further investigation to release the chief officer of the Scot Carrier whom they had been detaining for his role in the deadly collision with the Danish barge Karin Høj. The legal moves came as the wreck of the ship was reported to now be in danger of sinking and the Swedish Coast Guard reported a small oil leak.

The efforts have been continuing in Sweden following Monday’s incident in which the Karin Høj and the Scot Carrier collided causing the Danish vessel to capsize. One crew member’s body was later recovered from the wreck while the other crew member from the ship remains missing.

Swedish prosecutors have been interviewing the crew of the Scot Carrier while also reviewing records. Prosecutor Tomas Olvmyr said that the preliminary investigation on Tuesday continued with the collection of logs and other saved information about the incident. As a result of the investigation, they reported that the suspicions against the Croatian citizen, who was the chief officer of the Scot Carrier, had weakened. While saying the suspicions remained, the prosecutor decided to lift the arrest on suspicion of aggravated drunken driving.

The public prosecutor’s office however said that the arrest of the British citizen remains and that the suspicions against him have not weakened. Scotline Marine Holdings had said that the British citizen was the second officer on the vessel and was on the bridge when the Swedish Coast Guard contacted the vessel. He was the individual who called the master of the Scot Carrier to the bridge.

Under Swedish law, the prosecutor’s office has till noon on December 15, tomorrow, to decide if it will continue to hold the detainee as well as to decide the next steps in the case.  

As the legal case proceeds, late today the Swedish Coast Guard also announced that the buoyancy of the Danish vessel has deteriorated. They now fear that the Karin Høj wreck is in danger of sinking. Earlier they had said the vessel remained stable after having been repositioned first to shallow waters and then to a protected area where they believed they could minimize the dangers from an environmental problem. Initially, they reported that only minor debris had been spotted around the wreck, but the most recent update said that the vessel has also leaked an estimated 30 to 300 liters of what they believe is hydraulic oil. The Coast Guard and Sea Rescue Society are working to stop the spread of the oil and recovery it while also preventing additional leaks.

“A sinking is not something we wanted, but have been prepared for it,” said Jesper Bäckstedt who is leading the rescue effort for the Coast Guard. “The place where the wrecked ship was anchored has been chosen in consultation with the County Administrative Board in Skåne, given the bottom conditions and prevailing weather.”

The Danish salvage team has begun working with the Coast Guard. They said that even if the vessel sinks it would not greatly hamper their planned recovery effort. The earliest the salvage plan would be approved is Thursday, but in the location they moved the vessel it does not represent a danger to navigation.