Monday, July 3, 2017

Bulk Carrier and Fuel Tanker Collide in Dover Strait and a Disaster is Avoided

Integrity of Hull Containing 40,000 Tonnes of Petrol Maintained
Shipping News Feature
UK – FRANCE – The Dover Strait, the 'neck' of the English Channel, is known as the busiest waterway in the world, and with good reason by way of the 400 plus commercial vessels which transit every day. On Saturday July 1 two vessels collided in what could have proved one of the most serious incidents ever seen in an area where maritime accidents were once commonplace. Fortunately this occasion passed by with no injuries to the crews of either vessel, a tanker headed for Puerto Barrios in Guatemala and a bulk carrier, destination Lagos, Nigeria.

The incident occurred at 02:00 hours in a calm sea with good visibility when the two ships had a ‘coming together’, the vessels were the 183 metre, 48,500 dwt tanker Seafrontier and the bulk carrier Huayang Endeavour, which measures 225 metres overall and can carry 75,500 dwt. What makes this particular accident of special interest, besides the size of the ships involved, is the fact that the Seafrontier was almost fully laden with 40,000 tonnes of petrol, one of the most hazardous cargoes possible.

The tanker suffered damage to her superstructure severe enough to warrant calling in a tug from Boulogne whilst the cargo ship continued and has now docked at Dunkirk. Seafrontier is owned by the Hong Kong headquartered Valles Group, a private company registered to the Koo family under the Managing Directorship of Mr David Koo, whilst Huayang Endeavouris managed by the Beijing registered Minsheng Jiahe Tianjin Shipping, one of the companies under the wing of the Huayang Maritime Center (HMC), also based in Beijing but with a subsidiary office in Hong Kong, where both ships are registered.

The RNLI were quickly on the scene following the accident but one can only imagine the consequences if the tankers hold had been breached with that much gasoline and the possibilities of a spark from the steel hulls colliding. As it was there was no loss of product and no ingress of water, and the mixed Indian and Chinese crews, 22 strong on the Huayang Endeavour and the 29 aboard Seafrontier were all reported unharmed.

The Seafrontier after the crash (Courtesy of RNLI).