On the 22nd of February a vessel came close to running aground at Jæren. There was a great risk of acute pollution of a vulnerable natural area.
The vessel “Tide Carrier” had developed engine problems and was drifting towards the beaches close to Feistein lighthouse. Information was provided that the Tide Carrier was carrying approximately 600 m3 heavy oil and approximately 310 m3 diesel on board; the potential for acute pollution was therefore severe.
“Everyone was pulling in the same direction”
The weather was bad that evening, and worsened as time went on. The emergency on-call team, Kvitsøy VTS, the pilot services, the shipowner’s team, region West and Vardø VTS from the Norwegian Coastal Administration were involved in handling the incident.
“This incident has shown how the collected resources of the Norwegian Coastal Administration pull together when required,” says the Director of Emergency Preparedness Johan Marius Ly (photo right), who on Wednesday 22 February, just after 4 pm declared a government operation to prevent acute pollution.
This means that the government, represented by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, takes over the management of the incident on behalf of the polluter responsible.
This can be done when it is necessary to implement measures immediately, or where those responsible for the acute pollution or the danger of such contamination do not implement any measures themselves.
“This is the first time we have declared and carried out a government operation prior to the occurrence of a major spillage. We were prepared, gathered the resources and acted in time,” says Ly.
Were prepared for a major oil spillage
The most important aim of the Norwegian Coastal Administration in the management of the incident was to avoid the situation getting worse, and at the same time ensure the disabled vessel could be towed away from its dangerous position between Feistein Lighthouse and the beach at Hellestø in Jæren.
“Our main focus was to secure the disabled vessel in order to avoid it drifting onto the shore, and thereby rescue it in a safe manner and tow it away from its position of anchorage,” explains the Director of Emergency Preparedness.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre initially managed the operation, because of the primary focus on life and health. In parallel the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s emergency on-call team and Kvitsøy VTS Centre mobilised resources to secure the disabled vessel.
“We were prepared for a possible negative development resulting in the vessel going aground and the consequential spillage of oil. Drifting calculations were performed based on position, ocean currents and amount of oil on board Tide Carrier,” explains Ly.
Pilot secured the dialogue and evaluations
The disabled vessel was using both anchors. During the evening of 22 February, two tugs were able to connect their towing gear to the “Tide Carrier”. Two pilots were put on board the disabled vessel. In dialogue with the pilots, evaluation established that the disabled vessel was relatively safely anchored for the night and that the towing should be started during the morning of 23 February.
“To have your own representatives on board during such incidents is very useful to ensure good information and good evaluation in dialogue with the incident management team,” says Ly.
The follow-up by the Norwegian Coastal Administration was then carried out by the emergency on-call team as per normal procedures. The government operation ended at 9 am on 23 February. The subsequent work for the coming period will be to demobilise the resources, review and evaluate the incident and prepare a claim to recover the cost.
“It was good to see that our emergency preparedness and the combined capacities work extremely well together,” says Ly, and forwards his thanks to everyone involved in the operation.
The resources of the Norwegian Coastal Administration during operation “Tide Carrier”.
Substantial resources were put in preparedness: KV Bergen, KV Sortland and KV Tor were put in preparedness by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, IUA Sør Rogaland was notified and not least the Norwegian Coastal Administration itself has been involved in a substantial effort to prepare an oil protection action: OV Utvær, the oil protection depot in Stavanger and Kristiansand, surveillance aircraft and operational crew, in addition to resources from the pilot service and the vessel traffic service centres.
Cargo vessel built 1989, length 262 m, beam 32 m, draught 12,6 m.
According to information from the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, Tide Carrier is owned by Julia Shipping Inc. of Charlestown in Saint Kitts and Nevis and is registered in Comoros.
The crew of 20 are mainly from India, plus one Russian.
The vessel was built in Ukraine in 1989.
It has approximately 600 m3 heavy oil and 300 m3 diesel on board.
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