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Another collision in the Strait of Gibraltar PDF Print E-mail
Written by Editor   
Monday, 20 August 2007

Operations are currently underway in the Strait of Gibraltar to salvage the Panamanian registered cargo ship ‘New Flame’ which partially sank after colliding with the Danish tanker the ‘Tom Gertrud’ on Sunday 12th August.

The ‘New Flame’ loaded with scrap metal was leaving Gibraltar when it came so close the the tanker that a collision was unavoidable, fortunately the double hulled tanker was not holed and it moored after the incident and the crew stayed onboard and none of its cargo of 37,000 tons of crude oil was spilt. The ‘New Flame’ however did not come off so lightly sustaining serious damage, and subsequently began to take on water in its cargo hold, with only a sandbank preventing it from sinking completely.

The Gibraltar government has approved a plan to recover the Panamanian ship, and a specialised Dutch salvage company will first remove the 750 tons of fuel on board before attempting to refloat the ‘New Flame’.

The Gibraltar Port Authority has  declared a one mile exclusion zone around the vessel for operational reasons, and the salvage tug “Hua-An” is now on standby in the vicinity of the “New Flame”. This vessel was deployed from the Atlantic, with a second tug “Fotiy Krylov” due to arrive today from its station in the North Sea off the coast of Norway. This tug is one of the world’s largest, with specialist capabilities for operations of this nature.

Meanwhile the Greek captain of the ‘New Flame’, Demetrio Konstantinos, was arrested for leaving Gibraltar Port without permission or customs clearance, and was later released on bail to reappear in court later this month.

Whilst all parties agree that the incident was handled swiftly and efficiently by all the relevant services and authorities, the incident has cast serious doubt on the Gibraltar Government’s decision to close the Port Lookout in 2006. The purpose of the Lookout had always been to view shipping movements and provide necessary alerts and guidance, and had it still been operational it is unlikely this situation would have occurred.

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