MSC NAPOLI – Solent Protection Society warns that a similar oil spill could happen in the Solent

Posted on 26 Jan 2007

Following the grounding of MSC Napoli off Branscombe Beach, the Solent Protection Society calls on all those responsible for bringing cargo vessels into the Solent to continue reviewing and tightening up safety standards.

The unfortunate grounding of MSC Napoli off Branscombe Beach in Devon and the subsequent leaking of oil from her tanks has caused severe environmental problems for the Jurassic Coast’s wildlife, harbours and beaches.

MSC Napoli flies the British flag and therefore it is expected that she would be subject to high safety and operational standards, but accidents and breakdowns will happen. Six years ago MSC Napoli, reportedly, was stranded in the Malacca Straights and subsequently had major dry-docking work in Viet Nam. Last week she lost engine power 40 miles off the Cornish coast and subsequently suffered major structural hull cracks in heavy seas. It is reported she could have already lost about 200 tons of heavy fuel oil from her engine room overboard and there still remains in excess of 3,000 tons of fuel in her bunker tank, which it is hoped can be trans-shipped before she starts to break up. In the meantime hundreds of sea birds have been polluted or died.

An oil spill in the Solent would have a devastating effect on the wildlife, harbours, beaches and businesses of the South Coast.

There are clear differences between shipping casualties in the open sea and the Solent. In the Solent we do not encounter such seas, but we can get heavy winds which will affect the high substructure of ever larger container carriers when they are operating with the wind on their beam, at slow speeds, in our navigating channels. An engine breakdown in this event could prove disastrous. As the volumes and sizes of vessels steadily increase, extra vigilance is essential.

The Solent Protection Society calls upon maritime safety agencies and operators of large container ships using the Solent to reassure the public that they are reviewing their operational safety standards in the light of the Branscombe Bay incident.