Vehicle carrier being towed to Oskarhamn
The damaged Japanese vehicle carrier Makassar Highway is currently being towed to Oskarshamn. The towing started at 21.51 Tuesday evening, and kept going throughout the night. The vessel is leaking oil but the following ships are gathering the emissions.
The decision to tow the vessel to Oskarhamn was made Tuesday evening, preceding an examination of the under water recordings of the vessel which were taken on Tuesday. The recordings showed that the vessel is in a bad state as there are several cracks all over the vessel.
The damages are so severe that experts can not guarantee that the vessel wont sink, and seeing as there is a chance of stormy weather surrounding the area that Makassar Highway ran aground the Swedish authorities decided to move it.
Towing the vehicle carrier to Oskarhamn is not a completely risk free task, but it is has been evaluated to be a better option than letting it stay in the waters it went aground.
"The possibility that the ship will sink is low," says Patrik Lindén, on-scene commander for Coast Guard.
"To reduce the possibility of this, the towing will take place at low speed and we will follow it with more ships," says Patrik Lindén.
The level of speed of the towing started out with 3 knots but was reduced to something between 1,5 and 2 knots. The vessel is leaking oil but the following environmental ships are gathering the emissions.
The Swedish national TV channel SVT has gained access to some of the underwater recordings, recordings that show, among other things, that large pieces of distorted metal are still stuck to the rock ground where Makassar Highway went aground due to a speed level of 14 knots, Monday last week.
Go to the bottom of this article to see a picture of the seabed.
The chief officer of the ship, who was on a one man shift when the accident took place, admitted that he was intoxicated when the accident occurred. He is also charged with negligence and contamination.
The Japanese owners of the vehicle carrier has told Swedish media channels that they are willing to pay for the cleaning process if it can be documented that they are responsible for the accident.
The Swedish authorities have collected large amounts of tools that will help prevent further pollution in both Västervik and Oskarshamn. In Oskarshamn, the plan is to take Makassar Highway to the dock as quickly as possible, and empty it for the more than 1,300 cars that are currently onboard the vessel. This process will ease the load on the hull.
The two fuel tanks that were damaged when the vehicle carrier went aground have both been emptied of oil, but there are still more than 400,000 litres of fuel in ship's remaining tanks. They have not been emptied, as it would be putting the ship’s stability at risk if this was to be done.
The process of towing the vehicle carrier to Oskarshamn was expected to take 30 hours, but as the speed level has been reduced, the process is expected to take longer. The vehicle carrier is expected to be in Oskarshamn sometime on Thursday.
The is no precise numbers on how much oil Makassar Highway has led out, but it has been estimated to be around 14.000 litres.
The towing will be done through the shortest route to Oskarhamn.