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GREEK TRAGEDY






Updated: March 22, 2011.
Once again we have a Greek owned vessel getting itself into trouble and this one is pretty remarkable even with their history. This Greek owned vessel was the bulk carrier MS Oliva which ran aground on Nightingale Island part of the Tristan da Cunha (T. da C.) group. These are a self-administered group of British Islands and in the entire South Atlantic are the only group of islands between South America and South Africa. NAUTICAL LOG has been close to them several times on voyages from South Africa to Argentina so is reasonably familiar with navigating across that ocean by traditional methods. Not so for some seafarers it appears in spite of all the wonderful electronic aids navigators have today - perhaps that is the problem.

While on passage from Santos, Brazil to Singapore with a cargo of Soya beans the 75,000 tonne MS Oliva managed to run aground on Spinners Point on the northern coast of Nightingale Island, T. da C. The 22 crewmembers, 1 Greek and 21 Filipinos, were removed by the T. da C. fishing vessel MV Edinburgh and were brought to Tristan da Cunha Island. The bulk carrier has now broken-up and spilled both her cargo and her heavy fuel oil so there is an environmental disaster. In addition Nightingale Island is one of the few alien mammal free islands in the South Atlantic. The arrival and establishment of rats would place its seabirds and land birds at grave risk. The ships Master has stated that the vessel was free of rats - that will be a first in a grain ship - however considering the masterly skill in navigation there may be reasonable doubt with that statement. The Island also supports Atlantic yellow Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Northern Rockhopper Penguins, and Great Shearwaters (known as Petrels to the Islanders) which total about 4 million living in burrows on Nightingale Island. Already oil covered birds are being found, of particular concern are the Rockhoppers and their treatment is being attempted.

Finally there are photographs and reports on the Tristan da Cunha website. Since T. da C. is extremely sensitive with regard to its status and the Island Government has strict controls on visitors and information NAUTICAL LOG has not published anything from their website. One can visit at
www.tristandc.com/ and see under Latest News/News MS Oliva (20th. March 2011) for excellent photos, full reports and Island Group information. The photographs were taken from the SilverSea cruise ship MS Prince Albert 2 which was visiting the Tristan da Cunha Island Group at the time of the MS Oliva grounding.
There are updated reports and photos as the tug and personnel have arrived at the Tristan Island Group from South Africa; vist the website at link above.

Good Watch.

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