The Panama-flagged car carrier Makassar Highway, which sprung oil following its grounding on July 23, has been taken under tow, the Swedish Coast Guard said.
The decision to tow the heavily damaged vessel was made on Tuesday, July 31, in anticipation of heavy weather, which could have further compromised the ship’s stability and resulted in additional environmental pollution.
The coast guard added that the towing operation is being closely monitored as there is a risk of an oil spill, since there was no time to fully remove fuel oil and diesel from damaged ship.
As World Maritime News reported earlier, the vessel leaked an unknown amount of oil which has reached the shoreline in the area between Loftahammar and Valdemarsvik.
Bild från pågående bogsering tagen av Kustbevakningsflyget. pic.twitter.com/UIojW5F43N
— Kustbevakningen (@Kustbevakningen) August 1, 2018
As a result, the area between mainland and Huvudskär, just south of the Olsklabb lighthouse is closed off by booms by the Swedish Coast Guard and vessels have to go offshore.
“The vessel Makassar Highway is not leaking any more oil as of now,” the coast guard added. “The clean-up operation continues where oil has reached the shore and the Coast Guard is continuing to pick up oil at sea.”
What is more, there is a risk of inflicting further damage to the ship during the towing operation.
Previous underwater inspection found extensive damage on the ship including ruptured ballast tanks on the fore part, a hole in the ship’s bow thruster, as well as heavy metal damages on the ship’s bulb and its port side.
However, the coast guard stressed that the risk of the vessel sinking is low. Due to the challenging conditions, the towing operation is being conducted at a very slow speed, with coast guard vessels on stand by at the scene.
The ship is headed toward Oskarshamn, Kalmar County, Sweden.
The 2001-built Makassar Highway was on its way from Germany’s port of Cuxhaven to Swedish Södertälje port when it got grounded in the Tjust archipelago.
World Maritime News Staff