Monday, November 10, 2008

Fears Around Rusting Ship

The seized fishing vessel Taruman was left drifting in the River Derwent after it lost power while leaving port. Witnesses said the rusting hulk, carrying 270,000 litres of heavy fuel oil, came close to running aground on the rocks off Bellerive Bluff on Saturday, potentially causing an environmental disaster. But TasPorts said the vessel was never in serious danger. The FV Taruman has been rusting on Hobart's Macquarie Wharf since June 2005, when it was seized by armed customs officials for illegally fishing for patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean. The tender to scrap the ageing vessel was only recently awarded, but the operation to move the vessel to the scrap yards in India did not go to plan on Saturday. While manoeuvring the vessel away from port late on Saturday afternoon, the ship's engines failed to fire and it began drifting helplessly across the river towards the Eastern Shore, pushed on by strong winds.
FV Taruman
An accompanying vessel Kap Favel, which was also headed for the scrap, had to turn around at Taroona and limp back to the scene to tow the much larger ship to safety. The Taruman was undergoing emergency repairs off Blinking Billy Point yesterday. Witness Roger King, who put in a rival bid to scrap the vessel, said a disaster was averted only by a change in the wind direction. "They had a pilot on board who probably saved the day at the end of it all -- there were no tugs to tow it to safety," Captain King said. "It came very close to Bellerive Bluff." He said due diligence maintenance works to the ship's engines did not appear to have been done before it left port. TasPorts spokesman Charles Scarafiotti played down the incident. "I don't think there was any risk or danger there -- when they realised they didn't have power the other vessel took over," Mr Scarafiotti said. In 2006 Spanish fishermen from the Taruman were fined $118,000 for illegal fishing.

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