Tanker Runs Aground in Cayman Islands

Sea Elephant (image courtesy Cayman Islands Government)
Sea Elephant (image courtesy Cayman Islands Government)

Published Jul 7, 2024 8:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, a 50,000 dwt product tanker went aground on coral heads in the Cayman Islands, prompting an emergency response from the local government. 

The Greek-operated tanker Sea Elephant was approaching Cayman Brac to deliver a cargo of diesel fuel when she ran aground near Cayman Brac Port, the receiving pier for fuel imports. The grounding caused damage to the double-bottom tanker's hull and "to the sea floor," according to Cayman authorities. The local Cayman Compass reports that Sea Elephant contacted coral heads on a shallow bar near the terminal. 

No pollution or injuries were reported. The vessel was safely refloated, according to local media, and its AIS status shows that it is now moored at the pier. It is still under close monitoring as a precautionary measure.

Multiple local agencies are investigating the circumstances of the grounding and the impact on the coral. In a statement, the Caymans government said that it would be providing more information as the investigation unfolds. 

Sea Elephant is a 2019-built product tanker flagged in Liberia. It has a clean port state control inspection record and a single owner since delivery. 

It is the second time this year that the Cayman Islands has avoided a potentially serious casualty. 

On the evening of April 2, the Liberian-registered container ship SC Montana reported that the ship’s main engine was offline and that it was drifting toward the western end of Little Cayman, the smallest of the nation's three islands. The vessel still had auxiliary power but could not bring its main engine back online. 

Two good samaritan vessels intervened and brought the episode to a safe conclusion. The freighter Lefkes arrived on scene and successfully took the SC Montana under tow - a rarely-attempted evolution for two full-size merchant ships - and repositioned the ship to a safer location until a tug from Grand Cayman could arrive and take over.