The future is not looking very good for a bulk carrier that remains pinned against a rocky shoreline along the Pacific coast of Mexico five days after it ran aground during record-breaking Hurricane Patricia.
The vessel, which still contains some 11,484 liters of oil and 489 cubic meters of diesel, is now showing obvious signs of catastrophic structural damage without so much as a single boom placed the vessel.
Mexico’s environmental agency PROFEPA says it has been monitoring the wreck of the Mexican-flagged Los Llanitos since it ran aground Friday, but the responsible party has been unresponsive to requests to even place containment barriers around the wreck.
The Mexican Navy is also involved in the response, but at this point it seems that no actual work has been done beyond monitoring the ship.
The ship ran aground in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, on Friday, October 23rd as Category 5 Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded, slammed area with 165 mph winds. According to local media reports, the vessel attempted to ride out the storm at sea, but was forced aground in strong winds.
The location of the Los Llanitos grounding is just north of the Manzanillo, home to the busiest port on Mexico’s Pacific coast. AIS data shows the vessel’s position was recorded late on October 22nd when the ship was still in port.
All 27 crew members have now been evacuated, including the 8 crew members who initially stayed onboard to assist in any salvage. No injuries have been reported.
PROFEPA said previously a small amount of oil has been released from the vessel and that most of the remaining oil is located in an area of the ship that has not been damaged, but it added that more serious damage to the ship is almost inevitable.
Media has described the Mexican government’s handling of Hurricane Patricia as a rare bit of good news – the storm did surprisingly little damage – but it would appear that their response to this looming environmental disaster is failing, particularly if all they are doing is awaiting a call back from the ship’s owner.
What we do know is that something needs to be done quickly because each passing storm has the potential to break this ship up further, risking the release of even more oil. And with this winter’s strong El Niño, the Pacific will continue to be particularly active.
Additional photos of Los Llanitos:
Photos courtesy PROFEPA