Salvage of the partially sunken MV Flinterstar following a collision with an LNG carrier earlier this week off the coast of Belgium kicks into high gear as oil spill cleanup winds down and the inquiry into what happened continues.
Dutch ship owner Flinter reports that the Flinterstar remains stable and the company has contracted SMIT and Multraship to pump the remaining oil from the vessel. Flinter added that inspections of the ship since the collision early Tuesday morning have shown that damage to the vessel is worse than expected. Flinter has confirmed to gCaptain that the vessel has been declared a total loss.
“The crew had only a couple of minutes to leave the sinking and capsizing vessel as hold no 2 and the engine room flooded immediately. We have been very lucky that all our colleagues are safe,” Flinter tells us.
The Dutch freighter sank after colliding nearly head on with the Marshall Islands-flagged LNG carrier Al-Oraiq in the North Sea off the coast Belgium near Zeebrugge. All 11 crew members plus 1 pilot made it off the vessel safely. The Captain of the Flinterstar was admitted to a local hospital with symptoms of hypothermia, but has since been released.
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The 122,000 DWT Al-Oraiq was also damaged, but was able to continue to its destination of Zeebrugge with the help of a tug. The ship has been held by Belgian authorities as the inquiry into the collision continues. AIS data on Friday showed the ship moored near Zeebrugge.
K Line LNG Shipping (UK) Limited, manager of the Al-Oraiq, says that the vessel has safely completed a full discharge of its cargo and that damage suffered by the vessel has been inspected and evaluated by a class surveyor and a repair plan is being developed.
Initial response has focussed on securing the Flinterstar and the containment and recovery of oil, which threatened a nearby nature preserve. The Belgian Coast Guard has estimated that 100 tons of oil was released from the vessel.
An update Flinter on Thursday said that interviews with the crew were continuing and were expected to wrap up on Friday. The vessels Cormorant and Multrasalvor 3 were on scene to begin the process of removing the remaining oil from the vessel.
Weather has been cooperating with salvage efforts and the forecast calls for continued favorable conditions.
The vessel had just departed Antwerp bound for Bilbao, Spain when it collided with the Al-Oraiq about 6 miles (10 km) from the coast.
The 129 meter, approximately 9,000 DWT Flinterstar was built in 2002 and is flagged in the Netherlands. The ship was previously named UAL Africa.
Flinter’s fleet consists of more than 50 vessels under its ownership or control. Most are multi-purpose ships ranging in sizes up to 11,000 DWT.