Article

14 years since grounding of MSC Napoli (With explanatory video)


by Julian Wardlaw - published on 22 October 2021 144 -

The article was already published in 2017 by GOV.UK - at that time 10 years after the accident.

MSC Napoli was beached at Branscombe in 2007 to avoid a maritime pollution disaster. Image from Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Every job has its highs and its lows and very occasionally something so extraordinary happens it is left indelibly stamped on your mind.

One such event was the MSC Napoli – a 62,000 tonne container vessel ‘shipwrecked’ off the UK’s famous Jurassic Coast in 2007 after it got into difficulties in the English Channel.

The crippled vessel, which had been badly damaged in a violent storm, was purposefully grounded off Branscombe in East Devon to avoid a pollution catastrophe at sea.

I led the Environment Agency's response and chaired an Environment Group, which was convened to join up all partners dealing with the major incident so we could work together to manage and reduce the impact of this maritime disaster. Little did I know on the 20 January 2007 that the international multi-agency recovery and salvage operation that followed would take up most of my working life for the next two and a half years!

The drama began on 18 January 2007 when the Napoli, a 62,000 tonne container ship enroute from Antwerp to Durban, South Africa, ran into a violent storm off Brittany. The ship put out a distress call after suffering ‘catastrophic damage’ to its hull. All 26 crew were airlifted to safety in a rescue operation co-ordinated by UK coastguards.

Force 11 northerly winds made it impossible for the vessel to shelter along the French coast, so the French government asked the UK government if the crippled ship could be towed across the Channel into UK waters. The Napoli was still afloat, but listing badly.

The ship’s assorted cargo included explosives, fertiliser, weedkiller, car engines, chocolate, bibles, vodka, shampoo, wine, coffee, perfume, dog biscuits and frozen ducks.

The initial plan was to tow the ship to Dorset’s Portland harbour, but because of the risk of it sinking, it was decided to bring the vessel into the sheltered waters of Lyme Bay where it could be beached near Sidmouth.

On the morning of 20 January 2007 the Napoli came ashore off Branscombe. Within hours, the latest ‘visitor’ to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast was front page news and thousands of sightseers descended on the picturesque village of Branscombe to get a close-up look at the vessel.

As the sheer scale of the operation became apparent, the government launched its National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency established a Salvage Control Unit (SCU) to deal with the salvage operation and a Marine Response Centre (MRC) to manage the pollution response at sea.

In this video, we take a look at what happened when the Napoli broke her back and was run aground on the south coast of the UK:
Meanwhile, an Environment Group was hastily convened to minimise the environmental impact of incident and help co-ordinate a land-based response. Organisations represented on the group included the Environment Agency, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Natural England and Public Health England, Natural England, Health Protection Agency, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the RSPB.

The grounding of the Napoli was such an unusual event we had to be very innovative. We were fortunate in that the Environment Group was well supported by its partners. It meant during the first two weeks we met continually to help manage the incident as it unfolded.

Not all sightseers were happy to simply look at the beached vessel. Hordes of people arrived from all over the UK intent on scavenging cargo from containers washed ashore. Boxes of shampoo, wine barrels and even BMW motorcycles, still in their packing crates, were manhandled off Branscombe beach by an army of modern day ‘wreckers'.

Salvage experts worked round the clock to remove oil from the vessel. Divers drilled into the hull and emptied oil from all of the ship's fuel tanks within eight weeks of beaching. The salvage operation was helped by fine weather.

The Environment Agency and CEFAS carried out monitoring throughout the salvage operation to check for signs of pollution and assess the environmental impact in the sea and surrounding coastline. Cargo from broken containers, especially lighter plastics, were carried on tides as far as East Sussex.

By the summer of 2007 the decision to re-float the Napoli was taken. Although this was done successfully, the vessel was too badly damaged to be towed so it was dismantled instead using explosives to separate the bow section from the stern.

A scan of the seabed showed that by July 2009 every last trace of the Napoli had been removed. The whole operation had taken two and a half years and had cost in excess of £120 million.

The multi-agency Environment Group was later praised by the Napoli’s owners and other responders for its effectiveness and reactive approach. The grounding of the MSC Napoli was arguably also a turning point that prompted a positive change in the way such incidents are dealt with by the authorities.

What's your opinion on this?
Login or register to write comments and join the discussion!
Read more...

Video Transit of the Panama Canal with an XDF LNG Carrier on the Newly expanded locks under pilotage

published on 19 December 2020

Join me as we transit through the Panama Canal from the North-East side to the South-West. An interesting vlog on how an XDF LNG carrier transits through the newly expanded Panama Canal.Find out its history and which vessel and Captain transited the Canal on its opening day on the 15th of August 1914.The interaction with the Pilot Captain Arnulfo Cepetno who assist me on transit the Cocoli locks.

2

Video The Port Authority of Jamaica | Critical Services - Pilotage

published on 15 April 2021

Pilotage is compulsory in all Jamaican ports and is a necessity for the safe passage and docking of ships entering and leaving the harbours. No ship or vessel can enter our Ports without the #PortAuthorityJa’s pilotage services. #MarinePilots, being the experts in local conditions, are required to assist in the navigation and manoeuvring of vessels in our channels and port areas and are dispatched to all ports in Jamaica on a 24 hour basis. Our #PilotBoatCrew ensures that Marine Pilots are...

1

Video Autonomous Ships | 10 Reasons why you WONT LOSE YOUR JOB | Life at Sea Series

published on 30 June 2021

Autonomous ships news are often mislead and misinformed, causing worries within the seafaring community while corporations continue to get what they want - publicity, headlines and $$ investments . Life at sea is already hard enough, don't let their exaggeration affect you! WIth a bit of research, all source point to the same conclusion. As Maersk Line's CEO points out - Unmanned Containerships? Not in My Lifetime. In this video I will break them down for you. Here is 10 reasons why...

1

Article Demands made by the Pacific Pilotage Authority on the shipping industry following the death of US Pilot Dennis Sherwood

by Marine-Pilots.com - published on 27 March 2020

The Pacific Pilotage Authority says: "There is a common misunderstanding amongst vessel operators that vessels built prior to 2012 are exempt from some of the requirements for pilot transfer arrangements. This is incorrect...".

0

Article Report on Safe Tug Procedures

by Captain Henk Hensen (Marine Consultant) - published on 6 February 2020

Based on Pilot, Tug Master and Ship Captain Questionnaires

Compiled by:

Captain Henk Hensen FNI FITA Captain Daan Merkelbach FITA Captain F. van Wijnen MNI

0

Article Vessel Pilots: Ensuring Safe Port Calls

published on 5 October 2021

Throughout the world, mariners rely upon nautical charts to guide their voyages, to assist them in avoiding obstructions, and to note any special ocean conditions when sailing.

0

Article IMS Bahamas’ Marine Pilots licensed to Greater Bimini Area

by Marine-Pilots.com - published on 26 March 2020

According to a report by thebahamasweekly.com, IMS Bahamas’ Marine Pilots have been licensed by the Ministry of Transport and the Port Department to Pilot vessels in the Greater Bimini Area.

0

Video HMM - Maiden voyage of HMM Algeciras #10-Hamburg

published on 18 July 2020

#MaidenVoyage #HMMalgeciras
The maiden voyage of HMM Algeciras #10-Hamburg: Look at the sunrise in Hamburg, Germany. The city awakes, but the port never sleeps. The HMM Algeciras, the first largest containership in the world, bids farewell to Hamburg.

0

Video Smart Ports: Piers of the Future

published on 25 November 2019

Six leading Ports join forces to show the world their Smart Port model

0

Video 24/7 Live Webcam - Kiel Canal at Kiel Lock in Germany | Nord-Ostsee-Kanal Schleuse Kiel

published on 29 August 2020

Webcam Schleuse Kiel-Holtenau | Webcam Lock Kiel-Holtenau
Pilotage Service in this Area by:

0