The Baltic Ace car carrier, sailing under a Bahamas flag, is seen in this undated file photo.

The Baltic Ace car carrier, sailing under a Bahamas flag, is seen in this undated file photo.

During a regular patrol overflight this week, the Dutch Coast Guard spotted an oil sheen in the vicinity of the sunken Baltic Ace car carrier.

Monitoring of the Baltic Ace was immediately intensified with extra Coast Guard patrols and the research vessel Zirfaea, of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastucture and Environment, is at the scene to take samples. The oil is too thin to clean up and is not likely to reach the Dutch or Belgian coasts, the Dutch Ministry said.

Salvors have been instructed to locate and repair the leak (or leaks) although it is unclear which salvage company has been hired to carry out the work. The work is believed to have started on Wednesday.

The Baltic Ace sank December 5th after colliding with the Corvus J containership just south of the beginning of the Eurogeul, a busy deepwater shipping lane leading to the port of Rotterdam. The ship sank in just 15 minutes, killing 11 of the 24 crew, including five that have still not been located. It was loaded with about 1,400 cars when the incident occurred.

SVITZER was hired following the incident to remove the 466 tons of heavy fuel oil and 55 tons of marine diesel on board when it sank.

The Dutch Ministry and owner of the ship are still negotiating the necessary salvage measures.

(Tobias Pieffers contributed to this article)

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