The Swedish Coast Guard reports that the grounded ro/ro Makassar Highway has suffered “extensive damage” to her hull, complicating the ongoing response and salvage efforts.
The vessel went aground Monday on a rocky shoal off Vastervik, Sweden, resulting in damage to her bow and port side, with water entering two of her tanks. Pär-Åke Eriksson, the coast guard station manager at Vastervik, told Swedish broadcaster SVT that the vessel was making 14 knots prior to the grounding.
1,300 cars, 333,000 liters of fuel oil, 38,000 liters of lubricating oil and 34,000 liters of diesel are on board, according to the crew’s assessment. The authorities are requiring that all of the vessel’s lower fuel tanks be drained before work proceeds on refloating and removing her. This means that additional efforts are required to ensure her stability, according to the response team.
“When the tanks are emptied, stability is changing, and that is something that is currently being maintained. The hull has extensive damage, which complicates the work further,” said rescue leader Roger Gebauer. “All parties involved want to ensure that salvage is done as quickly as possible [but] the environment and safety come first.”
A tanker vessel has arrived at the scene to prepare to lighter off the Makassar Highway’s fuel, and a tug is under way to assist. As a precautionary measure, the response team has deployed a containment boom around the vessel, and a pollution control vessel is on standby near the site. Local media reported light traces of pollution earlier in the week, and the coast guard confirmed that a small amount of hydraulic oil had spilled. No significant release of petroleum is expected.
Swedish prosecutors have charged the Makassar’s chief officer with negligence in connection with the grounding and he has reportedly accepted a 60-day sentence.