Marine accident round-up : 20th October 2023

A generator exploded aboard passenger ship Ocean Navigator (IMO 9213131) during the morning of October 18th when the vessel was at Portland, Maine, having just arrived from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with 128 passengers on board. One crew member suffered burns and had to be hospitalized. The explosion was followed by a small fire which with the help of several fire engines and tugs was extinguished quickly. The passengers were evacuated. They had to wait for the result of ship’s inspection by the fire department and the Coastguard, before they were allowed back onto the ship.

2004-built, Bahamas-flagged, 4,954 gt Ocean Navigator is owned by Victory Holdings II LLC care of Victory Cruise Management Inc of Miami, Florida, USA. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Syndicate) on behalf of Victory Holdings II LLC. As of October 19th it remained at Portland, Maine, USA.

Rescue vessel Aita Mari (IMO 9248851) was told on October 17th by the Naples Authorities to leave the port of Naples. The crew had planned to remain in Naples port for a few more days to carry out small maintenance tasks in order to continue its humanitarian aid work. They were informed that they had to leave despite worsening weather conditions. A request to be allowed to remove rubbish form the ship was denied. The Aita Mari sailed a couple of hours after receiving the order and headed to Syracuse.

2002-built, Spain-flagged, 160 gt Aita Mari is owned and managed by SMH of Zarautz of Spain. It is entered with Shipowners’ Club on behalf of Asociacion De Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario PP. As of October 19th the vessel was at anchor in Syracuse, Sicily.

More than a month after the disappearance of Carmen Fernández Vázquez, a waitress on dredger Garcia del Cid (IMO 7523362), who went missing while the ship was carrying out an oceanographic campaign within a European project coordinated by the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM) of the CSIC in Barcelona, no progress has been made as to her fate. Her family has asked that the search for the 43-year-old continue. Neither the family nor its members’ legal representative have been informed of the results of the investigation proceedings carried out by the Civil Guard. The matter was referred by the Valencia courts to the Guard, but since then information from the authorities has been zero, claimed the victim’s relatives’ lawyer, Diego Leis. The emergency services learned of the disappearance of Vázquez during the morning of September 10th. She had last been seen by a member of the crew was on the night of September 9th. Investigators have also tried to clarify whether a sexual harassment complaint, filed by the woman against a fellow crew member in 2019, could be related to the events. The family said that the man concerned was not on this mission, but Vázquez had been able to see him the days before her departure while the ship was docked in Barcelona.

1979-built, Spain-flagged, 309 gt Garcia Del Cid is owned and managed from Madrid by the Spanish Government.

Barcelona has followed Venice’s lead and relocated all large cruise ships out of its central area. The World Trade Centre terminal near Barceloneta, located next to the old city’s boulevard, Las Ramblas, and the Gothic Quarter neighbourhood, had been the main berthing location for cruise ships for years. With up to 200,000 people disembarking for a day’s tourism in any given month, Barcelona has been looking again at the overall gain to the city of non-staying visitors. It was said by the city’s mayor earlier this year in a newspaper interview that 40% of the visitors stayed for four hours or less. “They don’t give the city economic return, and thousands of people disembark, create great mobility issues and then leave,” Mayor Ada Colau said. In the past this had been seen as a seasonal issue, but today the cruise ship industry looks to squeeze profits out of every month of the year, and overcrowding has become chronic throughout the year, especially in the Gothic District and around the Sagrada Família. The cruise industry appears to have killed the goose that laid the golden egg, and putting short-termism ahead of long-term sustainability has resulted in Barcelona saying that enough is enough. The city has ordered cruise ships’ passenger vessel port calls to be handled at the Moll d’Adossat pier, located along the breakwater of the industrial seaport about one mile south of the city core. Passengers will be required to bus to and from the terminal from the city core. The Port said that the change would affect about 300 to 340 port calls a year. The move follows the example set by Venice, which relocated cruise traffic out of the city centre in 2021.

Japan’s foreign ministry lodged a diplomatic protest with China on October 18th as a result of the activities of research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 18 (IMO 9769506) within Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea. Earlier in the day the Japan Coast Guard had spotted the ship extending a wire-like object into the ocean about 129km northeast of Taisho, one of the disputed islands in the East China Sea which Japan controls and calls the Senkaku Islands.

2015-built, China-flagged, 2,184 gt Xiang Yang Hong 18 is owned and managed by the Chinese Govt FIO from Qingdao, Shandong, China. ISM manager is Qingdao Huayang Maritime of Qingdao, Shandong, China. It is entered with Skuld (Skuld Hong Kong) on behalf of First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources. As of October 16th the vessel had been under restricted manoeuvrability in the East China Sea.