18th December

Containers lost from cargo ship pose navigational hazard off south coast

Helen Riddell

Bere Island man Sean Harrington has been involved in the recovery of a number of shipping containers spotted off the south west coast. They are believed to contain hazardous chemicals.

The containers were from the German registered cargo ship MSC Flaminia. The 85,823 ton vessel was laden with a cargo of 2,876 containers, 149 of which were classed as dangerous goods and believed to contain dangerous chemicals.

 On July 14 2012 when the vessel was in the mid Atlantic, a fire broke out in one of the ship’s holds, resulting in an explosion. One crewmember died in the incident and another is still missing; the remaining 23 crew abandoned ship and were later picked up from a lifeboat by a passing oil tanker.  Fire-fighting tugboats went to the scene and brought the blaze under control.

Some of these containers were spotted off the Irish coast very recently and following concerns that they could prove a hazard to international shipping, Sean Harrington, who operates Atlantic Towage & Marine Ltd, was tasked by the ship’s insurers to retrieve them with his ocean going tug Ocean Bank

“The containers are 80 miles off the south west coast. We’ve brought three ashore already which were empty, and we will be heading back out for more,” he said.   

MSC Flaminia was en route from South Carolina to the German port of Bremerhaven when the fire broke out. Following the incident which took place 1,600km from the nearest point of land, experts carried out a detailed survey of the ship before declaring it safe to be towed through the English Channel to the German port of Wilhelmshaven where the full extent of the damage could be assessed. 

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