Grounded bulk carrier Wakashio breaks apart

Grounded bulk carrier Wakashio breaks apart

The grounded bulk carrier Wakashio after it split in two off Mauritius on August 15, 2020 (Photo: Mr Sébastien Lecornu, French Minister of Local Authorities)

The bulk carrier Wakashio, which ran aground in an area off southeastern Mauritius late last month and has remained there since, broke in two at approximately 16:30 local time on Saturday, August 15, Mauritian and French officials have confirmed.

This latest mishap to befall the Panamanian-flagged vessel owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping occurred even as operations were being carried out to drain it of all remaining oil prior to being refloated.

No injuries have been reported, though the vessel’s remaining oil has spilled into the surrounding waters.

Officials said that containment booms were already in place, these having been installed within hours of Wakashio‘s grounding near Point Desny on July 25.

Nagashiki had earlier said that the vessel was in danger of breaking up after inspectors identified a gradually expanding breach in the hull. It was through this same breach that over 1,000 tonnes of very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) had leaked into the surrounding waters over the last couple of weeks.

However, officials have assured that most of the 4,000 tonnes of VLSFO and 200 tonnes of diesel that the vessel had on board when it ran aground had already been recovered prior to the incident on Saturday.

The French Ministry of Local Authorities, which has been providing assistance in the salvage effort, said that the vessel’s forward section will now be towed away from the area while the aft section will remain in its current position and will likely be scrapped there.

The salvage and debris recovery effort on Wakashio had also included personnel from both private and government-run organisations from various countries including India, South Africa, and Singapore.

See more stories from this month’s Tug and Salvage Week here.

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