Salvors have commenced an emergency tow of the car carrier Makassar Highway off the coast of Sweden after a survey revealed serious damage and cracks in the ship’s hull that could impact its stability, the Swedish Coast Guard reported.
The emergency tow commenced Tuesday evening just before 9 p.m. following approval of the plan from the Coast Guard and other agencies involved in the on-going response.
The environmental protection vessel KBV 031 has joined the tow to help clean up any oil that leaks from the car carrier. Multiple Coast Guard assets are also supervising the tow.
The flotilla is headed for Oskarshamn, Sweden – a journey that is expected to take about 30 hours at a speed of two knots.
The Panama-flagged Makassar Highway ran aground off Loftahammar, Sweden last Monday, July 23, while underway from Cuxhaven, Germany from Sodertalije, Sweden. An underwater inspection of vessel carried the next day revealed extensive damage to the hull, including several breaches and water ingress in at least two tanks.
Over the weekend, the vessel unexpectedly floated free on its own before salvors had a chance to remove the oil from the impacted tanks. As a result, an unspecified amount of oil leaked into the environment, with some ashore in the vicinity of Flatvarp, Sweden.
Officials on Tuesday said the primary concern continues to be the release of oil and further damage to the ship which could impact its stability.
“I see two risks of towing, one of which is to get oil from the ship during towing, and the other is to worsen the damage on board the ship. The risk of the ship sinking is low,” says Coast Guard’s deputy on-scene commander Patrik Lindén.
“To reduce the risk of this, the towing will take place at low speed and we will follow it,” Lindén added.
The vessel was initially reported to be carrying about 400,000 liters of oil on board.
The 139-meter Makassar Highway is operated by the European subsidiary of K-Line, named K-Line European Sea Highway Services.
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