The Estonian Waterways Board had warned the tanker four times before it ran aground, as the vessel’s manoeuvres had looked strange.
An oil tanker carrying no cargo ran aground off the Estonian capital Tallinn on Monday. The Estonian Waterways Board had warned the crew of the Bahamas-flagged Kyeema Spirit four times of the risk of running aground, as the tanker’s manoeuvres had looked strange.
For the time being, there are no signs of any technical malfunction, which indicates that the incident might also be attributable to human error. The prevailing strong wind could also have contributed to the accident, said Kalev Vapper, a representative of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, on Monday.
At present, it remains unclear what precisely had made the 249-metre-long vessel run aground east of the island of Aegna at 6:55 am on Monday morning. At the time of the accident, the wind was blowing at around 17 m/s, with the wave height being approximately three metres. The accident is being investigated by the Safety Investigation Centre of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
The tanker was bound for the port of Muuga, located east of Tallinn, where it was apparently supposed to take on a cargo of oil. ”Only bilge water was leaking from the tank, but this does not cause any threat to the environment”, said Ivar Treffner from the maritime surveillance department of the Estonian Border Guard. According to Treffner, there is one hole in the hull of the ship, but it is not near the fuel tank. On Monday, divers were waiting for the wind to die down in order to be able to inspect the vessel properly.
Estonia has recently improved its oil spill response and preparedness. In August, the country introduced a brand new oil spill response vessel named the General Kurvits, made at the Uusikaupunki Shipyard in Finland. The General Kurvits is observing the situation in the vicinity of Kyeema Spirit, grounded on Monday. In addition, Estonia has two old oil spill prevention vessels, which are in poor shape, plus one rented vessel. ”We would have been able to cope with today’s oil spill, as it could be located”, said Allan Oksmann, the head of the maritime surveillance department of the Estonian Border Guard.