GAS TANKER STRIKES ôTRICOLORö WRECK IN ENGLISH CHANNEL
The 'Vicky,' an 800-foot-long tanker carrying 64,000 tons of flammable gas, rammed the sunken hull of the Wilhelmsen Lines car carrier 'Tricolor' in the English Channel on Wednesday night.
The collision was “unexpected because the French coast guard had surrounded the wreck with warning buoys,” a spokesman for Wilhelmsen in Oslo told Shippers NewsWire Thursday.
Rough seas apparently disrupted the ring of buoys, allowing the 'Vicky' to ground on the hull of the 'Tricolor,' which is lying on its side on the seabed with the name “Wallenius Wilhelmsen” clearly visible. Part of the wreck emerges from the water when tides are low.
After becoming stuck on the wreck, the 'Vicky' refloated itself. “There is light damage below the water to the Vicky’s hull,” said Per Ronnevig, Wilhelmsen’s spokesman. “We’ve been told that the tanker will go to Antwerp to unload its cargo, and then proceed to a shipyard for repairs.”
The 'Vicky,' a Turkish ship, had been en route from Antwerp to New York. The ramming late on New Year’s Day was the second involving the wreck of the 'Tricolor,' which sank Dec. 14. Two days later, the 'Nicola,' a German-owned cargo ship, hit the capsized hull despite the presence of a warning buoy. Tugs pulled the 'Nicola' clear, and the vessel went on to Hamburg.
The incident with the 'Vicky' occurred after one-third of the 'Tricolor’s' 2,000 metric tons of bunker fuel had been removed from the sunken ship by the pumper-tank barge 'Asian Hercules II.' “When sea conditions permit, the remainder of the bunker fuel will be pumped out of the hull,” Ronnevig said.
At that point, Wilhelmsen is likely to refloat the wreck and tow it from one of the busiest shipping lanes in the Channel.
The 'Tricolor,' which was carrying 2,862 Saabs, BMWs and Volvos as well as farm tractors and machine parts, sank after colliding with the 'Kariba,' a containership.
All 24 crewmembers on the 'Tricolor' were rescued. Both the 'Tricolor' and the 'Kariba' had been maneuvering in thick fog to avoid colliding with a third vessel — a tanker from Singapore — in a narrow channel off the port of Dunkirk.