Swedish CG investigates possible Makassar Highway transgressions

Sweden’s coast guard has launched an investigation into potential environmental violations and water pollution fines for the operator of the vehicle carrier Makassar Highway (IMO 9235426). The vessel ran aground on a rocky archipelago during the morning of July 23rd in the Tjusts archipelago, Västervik municipality, northern Sweden while en route from Cuxhaven to Södertälje with 1,325 cars on board.

Subsequent to the mooring, responsibility for dealing with the vessel transferred to the civil protection units, while the Swedish Coastguard remained responsible for dealing with the oil in the water.

The coast guard said on Friday August 3rd that it had submitted a notification of a breach under Sweden’s Environmental Code or a violation of Act (1980: 424) on ship-source pollution measures. A preliminary investigation has been initiated at the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Environmental and Occupational Safety Objectives.

Makassar Highway has now been towed to and moored at Oskarshamn Harbour, Sweden. Sweden’s Transport Agency does not want her to depart until the operator files a complete plan for repair and transport. Oskarshamn does not have large drydock facilities for repairing the Highway’s extensive hull damage. She will need temporary repairs before a tow to another shipyard.

Cleanup efforts continued near where the vessel grounded and along the subsequent towing route.

Response coordinator Mattias Heneborn said that overflights of the route had indicated light pollution from the vessel’s leaking tanks, and that response vessels were determining whether the oil could be recovered or contained.

Swedish prosecutors have charged the Makassar’s chief officer with negligence in connection with the grounding, which occurred at a speed of about 14 knots. He was reported to have accepted a 60-day sentence.

Last weekend the vessel caught response teams by surprise when she refloated of her own accord. An unknown quantity of fuel oil then leaked from damaged bunker tanks. Spill response boats recovered about 1,800 gallons of HFO, but some oil reached shore near the town of Flatvarp. The vessel was then anchored offshore and a dive inspection revealed serious damage and cracks in the hull. The operator then requested permission to tow the vessel to a port of refuge, and the Swedish Coast Guard granted permission to bring her to Oskarshamn.

2001-built, Panama-flagged, 17,735 gt Makassar Highway is owned by Makassar Highway Shipping SA care of ‘K’ Line European Sea Highway Services GmbH (KESS) of Bremen, Germany. ISM manager is Stargate Shipmanagement GmbH of the same city. It is entered with UK P&I Club (Area Group London J1) on behalf of Makassar Highway Shipping SA.