The bulk cargo ship that grounded off Norway’s southern coast last week, setting off the country’s worst oil spill ever, was cited for deficiencies as late as in mid-July. Maritime authorities say they uncover flaws in one out of every three vessels calling at Norwegian ports.
The vessel, the Chinese-owned Full City, reportedly was cited on July 13 by Russian harbor authorities for having outdated certificates, outdated maps and violations of international safety standards.
An inspector for the vessel’s Japanese classification society, Class NK, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv this week that he was trying to find out why the vessel was allowed to sail from the Russian port of Kaliningrad. A spokesman for the vessel’s owner Roc Maritime, its operator COSCO and insurer The London P&I Club said new certificates were sent to harbor authorities in England, where they were picked up before the vessel continued on to Norway.
The spokesman described the other reported deficiencies as minor and not relevant to the vessel’s grounding at Langesund, off the coast of Telemark County.
Class NK is one of the world’s largest classification societies and had approved the vessel for five years just last fall. Its captain has now been charged with negligence after the vessel reportedly came loose from anchorage and grounded during a storm in the early morning hours of July 31.
Most deficiencies ‘minor’
Norwegian port authorities told newspaper Aftenposten on Friday that they held back 21 vessels last year after uncovering various deficiencies. They noted, however, that few of the deficiencies are serious. The number of them increased last year, not least because the strong economy at the time had led to a jump in shipping traffic in and out of Norway.
A total of 465 foreign vessels have been inspected in Norway so far this year. Inspectors found flaws on 153 of them. Only seven were prevented from sailing until the flaws were corrected.
The Full City captain’s defense attorney, meanwhile, told Aftenposten earlier this week that another ship drifted loose of its anchorage in the same spot in 2007. He warned against placing full blame on the captain, noting that questions remain over what kind of weather reports he’d received, what sort of communication he had from Norwegian authorities and how much he knew about the extent of damage from the grounding.
New mysterious oil spills under investigation
Emergency crews trying to clean up oil spilled from the grounded vesselFull City are also discovering oil in odd places that they don’t think came from the stricken ship at Langesund. According to newspaper VG, they suspect that someone has been using the Full City’s spill to dump their own oil. No one has been caught in the act but crews are picking up suspicious oil samples for tests to see whether they actually came from the Full City. Police are aware that illegal dumping has occurred in connection with earlier oil spill disasters. “It’s very sad if people are using this catastrophe to get rid of their own oil,” one recreational boater told VG. “We hope it’s not small boat owners who may be doing this.”