There has been a spike in the number of tanker accidents this week with four product and crude carriers grounding and sinking
Three product tankers and one Suezmax crude carrier have required salvage in the last six days in east Asia, southern Europe and northern Africa.
Although all crew on these ships are reportedly safe, there are risks of oil pollution from these accidents.
It is not known why these incidents occurred, but it appears they could be the result of navigation errors or engine failures.
These four tanker accidents, and others involving different ship types this week, highlight the importance of ensuring there is adequate salvage and emergency tug contingencies to prevent incidents becoming fatal and dangerous environmental catastrophies.
The latest accident was off Tanjung Penyusop, Malaysia in the South China Sea. Product tanker Wan Da capsized and was drifting into shipping lanes. It is thought all crew were rescued on 15 April before the listing ship rolled over three nautical miles off Johor.
According to Fleetmon, the capsized vessel drifted into Indonesian waters, but patrol ships were towing the wreck to Riau islands waters, Indonesia.
Three days before that, a disabled Suezmax crude oil tanker was towed by tugs away from another important shipping lane in southern Europe.
Tanker Militos suffered engine failure while commencing its northbound Bosphorus transit into the Black Sea. This Greece-flagged, 2012-built tanker was under ballast and en route to Novorossiysk, Russia, when its engines failed in the southern section of the Bosphorus Strait.
Turkish tugs were deployed to control the distressed tanker. They turned it around, then towed it back into the Marmara Sea to the Bakirkoy anchorage on 12 April.
In Morocco, another product tanker requires tug assistance for salvage. Tanker Aziz Torlak was en route from Cartagena, Spain, when it ran aground entering the Port of Dakhla on 10 April. This 2010-built tanker strayed off the navigation fairway and struck the seabed. Tugs were deployed to refloat this distressed ship.
In the East China Sea, another product tanker grounded after straying from a shipping lane. Ningda 10 ran aground 11 nautical miles southeast of Zhoushan, China, on 11 April. Ningda 10 struck rocks and was damaged in the accident as it developed an aft tilt and will require salvage tugs to refloat it.
According to Fleetmon, search and rescue ship Dong Hai Jiu 118 was mobilised to rescue seven seafarers on the tanker.
Other salvage operations were ongoing this week in the US, UK and South Africa.
A pusher tug and oil barge ran aground in the Great Lakes region of the US on 13 April. Tug Albert was pushing barge Marget in the Detroit river mouth, Lake St Clair, en route to Green Bay when it ran aground. Salvage vessels were mobilised to prevent any pollution, rescue crew and refloat the tug and oil barge.
In the UK, Briggs Marine vessels helped Resolve Marine salvage cargo ship Kaami, which grounded on the Isle of Skye. Briggs Marine provided oil spill response, divers and crew on board Forth Warrior and Forth Guardsman during salvage operations.
They protected the environment around the grounded ship and removed fuel and cargo. Refloating Kaami was challenging due to the remote location and poor weather at the site.
There was also the unique obstacle for the teams to overcome in terms of movement restrictions and increased emphasis on antivirus safety during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.
In South Africa, emergency response tugs towed container ship Barrier to safety after it grounded near Beira, Mozambique. Tugs towed this disabled container ship to Durban anchorage in South Africa on 13 April.