Video: Portugal Tows Burning Tanker to Sea as Weather Front Approaches

video product tanker fire
Product tanker Greta K was towed out to sea as the fire continues to burn in the engine room (Portuguese Navy)

Published Mar 22, 2023 5:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

Portuguese authorities are reporting that the fire aboard the product tanker Greta K remains active, but they believe it is under control. They were able to move the vessel further offshore as they plan their next steps while the National Maritime Authority has issued a warning for worsening weather and sea conditions on the west coast of the mainland starting on Thursday morning.

“Everything remains the same as last night,” port commander Humberto da Silva Rocha said in a media briefing. The amount of smoke from the vessel was diminished but they continue to believe the fire is active in the stern section. So far, there has been no secondary ignition or oil spill. The 24,768 dwt product tanker is believed to be fully loaded with a cargo of jet fuel and diesel, in addition to the diesel and lubes for its own use. The vessel’s manager, K-Ships is reporting that they believe the fire has been contained within the engine room and possibly traveling up the funnel trunk.


Maritime Authority and Navy issued video (Click photo to play)

Overnight the teams from the ports and maritime authority were successful in attaching a tow line to the Greta K. When the fire broke out the vessel was less than two miles from shore with a pilot aboard as it was approaching the port of Leixões. The port commander reports they were able to move the tanker to a position 11 nautical miles from the coastline. A towline remains attached to one tug while a second tug continues to spray water to cool the exterior of the vessel. The Navy, a pilot boat, and others can be seen in the video released by the Navy and Maritime Authority standing by near the tanker.

Navy officials reported that one of their frigates, NRP Corte-Real, reached the stricken tanker. This morning they evacuated the last of the crew, the captain and two officers, who were taken to the frigate to advise a technical team that plans to inspect the tanker to determine if the fire is still burning and the extent of the damage. 




A decision on the next steps was planned for later today based on the weather warnings. The National Maritime Authority reports that a strong weather front will reach Portugal by Thursday morning with the swell coming from the northwest quadrant, with a significant height that can exceed 20 feet and a maximum height of just over 40 feet. Onshore, they are warning the public to reinforce mooring lines on boats, avoid beaches and recreation fishing until the storm subsides mid-day on Saturday.

After the fire began on the Greta K, they evacuated 12 of the 19 crewmembers aboard with the others remaining to aid in the firefight. Four additional crewmembers were later removed from the vessel and they are all in Leixões where they will be interviewed by the Maritime Police. One crewmember was reportedly treated at the hospital for burns to one hand, but otherwise, everyone escaped unharmed.

The hope was that the product tanker could still be brought into the port at Leixões where it was due to unload.