Swedish Coast guard refloated the 27,792gt/1997 built Victoria on the evening of 26th September after a week-long task to set the Liberia-flagged bulk carrier free after she ran aground at Fladen, some 15 nautical miles from Varberg on the evening of 19th September. The ship was then towed outside the Port of Halmstad where she was anchored to undergo further inspections. It appears that the ship suffered a steering failure prior to her grounding which resulted in a 3m gash in the hull, but no leakage. Some 977,000 litres of heavy fuel oil and some of the cargo of wheat was discharged from the Victoria before she was refloated. The vessel had been en-route from Rostock in Germany to Guinea, West Africa when she became stuck on a shoal.
October did not start well in the Bahamas as Hurricane Joaquin enveloped the region and claimed the 31,515gt/1975 built ro-ro/container vessel El Faro (above), operated by Tote Maritime. The 224m ship had 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals aboard and had departed Jacksonville on 29th September bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico. She strayed into the path of the storm off Crooked Island in the Bahamas and the last contact with the ship involved reports of losing propulsion, listing and taking on water. The captain of the El Faro had been watching the storm closely and had calculated he had enough room to steer to its west but the engine failure made the ship a sitting duck. An air and sea search was launched by the U.S Coastguard with more than 70,000 square nautical miles searched. On 4th October aircrews found a debris field in the vicinity of the ship’s last known position, including Styrofoam, wood, cargo and other items. On 5th October the Coastguard confirmed that they were no longer looking for the ship, but for survivors. One body had been found, wearing a survival suit, along with one of the two 43 person capacity lifeboats, albeit heavily damaged. Hurricane Joaquin battered the central Bahamas archipelago for more than two days with 130 mile per- hour (210 km-per-hour) winds, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane on a scale of 1 to 5. The U.S. Coast guard ended the search for possible survivors after an exhaustive 6-day search covering more than 183,000 square nautical miles. The search was officially suspended on 7th October at sunset.
Another lesser victim of the storm was the 1,167gt/1980 built Bolivian-flagged cargo ship Minouche whose 12-strong crew were rescued by the U.S. Coast guard on the evening of 1st October. The ship was listing by 30 degrees and taking on water 51 nautical miles northwest of Haiti. A Coast guard rescue helicopter eventually arrived on scene and hoisted the survivors, transporting them to Great Inangua in the Bahamas.
Early on the morning of 6th October a Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) LNG carrier collided head-on with a small Dutch general cargo vessel off the Belgian coast. The 6,577gt/2002 built Flinterstar is owned by Flinter Shipping BV and ran aground on a sandbank after the incident (above). All 11 crew were safe but the ship was partially submerged and leaking oil. The 136,685gt/2008 built K Line ship al Oraiq suffered damage and was anchored near the scene, 10 km off Zeebrugge, before proceeding to port. As a result of the collision the Western Schelt estuary, connecting the port of Antwerp with the North Sea, was partially obstructed in both directions. On 9th October the Flinterstar was declared a total loss. Smit & Multraship are salvaging her.
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