Weather forecast halts ôMSC Napoliö container salvage operation
The prospect of bad weather over the next few days has prompted salvors of the 'MSC Napoli' to return one of the barges discharging containers from the stricken box ship back to Portland Port, on the south coast of England.
The oil removal operation will continue as long as safety is not compromised, said Robin Middleton, the Secretary of State's representative for salvage and intervention who is leading the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's salvage response unit.
The 4,427-TEU 'MSC Napoli' was carrying 2,394 containers when it was caught in a severe storm on Jan. 18 that lead to it being deliberately grounded in Lyme Bay to avoid it sinking in deep water.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 314 containers have been removed from the ship, but the MCA expects a number of containers from the ship to be lost overboard when the weather hits.
With the likelihood of more containers washing up on Branscombe beach, the authorities have taken steps to prevent a repeat of scenes witnessed a couple of weeks ago, with people ripping open containers to get at their contents.
'Contingency plans remain in place right around the coastline and working in close cooperation with all the local authorities and the police and Coastguard, any containers that may be washed ashore will be marked and secured as soon as they arrive on the beach. Aerial surveillance flights continue and these reconnaissance missions will also help us pinpoint any missing containers,' Middleton said.
'Security officers are on standby in the various locations to identify and secure any containers that may come ashore on behalf of the Receiver of Wreck. It is vital that members of the public do not approach any container or touch any contents but inform the appropriate authorities immediately.'
The MCA pointed out that the normal arrangements in terms of recovery of wreck material through voluntary salvage do not apply as comprehensive salvage contracts have already been placed by the owners of the ship (and the consignors) to recover all items from the vessel, including those lost overboard and washed ashore.
'If more containers wash up off the East Devon coast we will ensure with Devon and Cornwall Police that strategic points are manned to only allow access for local residents and businesses,' Middleton said.