Time to refloat dangerous wrecks and save the environment too

Associations, At the end of the day..., Communication, Environment, Groundings, Marine Insurance, Maritime Accidents, Maritime Tourism, Oil Spill, P and I Clubs, Pollution, Safety and Security, Salvage, Towage, Wreck Removals, Tourism — By on October 23, 2017 at 6:55 PM

From the refloating of the “Cabrera”

Following the successful refloating and raising of the aft section of the cargoship Cabrera Andros island in the Cyclades in Greece’s central Aegean Sea, it is a rare so to say opportunity to use the Smit crane involved for other actions while she’s still in Greek waters. The crane, which has a lifting capacity of 2,200 tons, must be called among other instances to deal with aspects of the Agia Zoni II disaster in the Saronic Gulf off Piraeus.

A fuel oil spill from the 45-year-old sinking tanker had reached the shores of Athens, causing considerable alarm, as reported earlier in AllAboutShipping.

Dealing with the emergency was imperative from an environmental perspective as the Agia Zoni II if not lifted might have caused further pollution and other damage to the eco-system in a wider region.

It is one thing to clean the beaches – which still continues as you read these lines, and to claim to clean the sea-bed, and yet another to leave a ship at the bottom when there are means to raise the vessel and avoid other environmental consequences…

On this occasion, we remind you of the statement via the media, that the current minister of Shipping and the Aegean Panagiotis Kourouplis has given an order for the immediate activation of relevant law for the raising in Santorini of the cruise vessel Sea Diamond which sank10 years ago, following a call from the Public Port Authority signed with the local Public Harbour Fund Office in Thira (Santorini) and addressed to the Hellenic Coast Guard Command.

It is time to mobilise all stakeholders involved in this and many other cases in Greece together with the respective ministry departments of Mercantile Marine /Shipping and the Aegean …and that of Tourism to support Maritime Tourism activities to raise protection for local and international tourism – as 20m-plus tourists come to Greece and its archipelagos to enjoy what they expect to be eco-clean seas and beaches!

Needless to say that in many instances shipwrecks are more than a danger, more than a hazard, as they affect the safety of navigation in busy sea lanes particularly off port limits.

All in all there have been too many worrying cases and someone must here and now slash the red tape. We know of many companies in the past that have insisted on refloating wrecks that were a potential threat to all, but there hasn’t been a determined effort and sizeable move from all stakeholders involved, as the state also becomes a stumbling block. Salvors, local authorities, insurers, underwriters, brokers, P and I clubs, union of hoteliers, ministries and coast guards and the international bodies including the International Maritime Organization, the OCIMF and others need to take these concerns swiftly on board. Add to this list the European Union!

Lastly, it is a must to see for the sacred cause of maritime archaeology a momentum for real care of the hundreds of wrecks in Greek waters which must be raised to transform words into action.

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