Crew evacuated from adrift cargo ship off Portugal

A number of crew were evacuated from general cargo ship Southwester (IMO 9126728) on Thursday after the vessel had suffered sudden flooding in the engine room, shortly after midnight that day.

The Southwester was located about 40nm off Figueira da Foz, a small port north of Lisbon. It was at the time en route from Montoir-de-Bretagne, France, to Sevilla, Spain.

The Portuguese Navy deployed frigate Álvares Cabral with divers on board, to investigate the situation and act in conformity.

Its 14 crew, seven Turks and seven Georgians, were rescued later that morning by Liberia-flagged EM Hydra, and they were arrived at the port of Leixões (Porto) at about 10:30 local time.

They were tested for Covid-19. They provided statements to Portugal’s maritime police.

Portuguese Navy spokeswoman Cmdr Nádia Rijo told media on Thursday that the Southwester was still afloat and was in no danger of sinking. However, the vessel was drifting gradually away from the coast. Portuguese authorities were working with the shipowner on a towing plan involving two tugs.

The Southwester had a cargo of steel when she went not-under-control; her condition was not thought to pose any environmental risk, the Portuguese Navy said.

It was reported that during the Southwester’s last port state control inspection – which took place in Piraeus in late September– officials found nine deficiencies related to ISM code compliance, cleanliness of the engine room, crew provisions and fire safety, among other concerns. In addition it was said that over the past five years, the vessel had accumulated 134 deficiencies and suffered two detentions.

1998-built, Vanuatu-flagged, 4,150 gt Southwester is owned by Southwester Shipping Corp care of manager Northwester Shipping Corp of Istanbul, Turkey. It is entered with Shipowners Club, on behalf of Gant Shipping.

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