The Grounded Ferry is now being Salvaged

01 November, 2023

The grounded ferry Marco Polo is being salvaged – and is currently being moved out to deeper water, the Coast Guard reports.

The salvage entails new risks for further oil spills, and a minor spill has already taken place.

The ferry will be towed on Wednesday Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT

From the harbor in Djupekås, Anders Nilsson and Jan Turesson follow how Marco Polo is slowly taken away from the foundation. The weather is calm and sunny. Coast Guard aircraft circle above Marco Polo.

– Now they hope that the operation will be completed before the weather gets worse.

I have seen the ferry from the window the whole time, says Jan Turesson.

Strong smell

In Djupekå’s harbour, lumps of oil lie in the grass and signs state that it is forbidden to go further out.

– Diesel smelled here last Sunday when she ran aground, says Anders Nilsson.

It smelled so strong you couldn’t be here.

From the harbor in Djupekås, Anders Nilsson and Jan Turesson follow how Marco Polo is slowly taken away from the foundation. Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT

The towing of the vessel began at seven o’clock this morning, the Coast Guard tells TT.

– She is being towed by two boats and is now on her way to deeper water where she will anchor, says Valdemar Lindekrantz, spokesperson for the Coast Guard.

The ship, which is to be taken to the harbor of Stilleryd in Karlshamn, must first be inspected before it is then towed further.

Less emissions

Already now, however, a minor spill has occurred – when three tanks on board are damaged.

– There has been residual oil inside damaged tanks, and when the ship is moving, a small amount of oil has come out. But it was expected, and we are prepared to pick up the oil, says Valdemar Lindekrantz.

The passenger ferry TT-Line Marco Polo has run aground a total of three times – first twice in close succession on October 22 and then a third time on Sunday, when the ferry broke loose from the ground and drifted for about a hundred meters before running aground again. The result was an even bigger oil leak.

The ship, which is to be taken to the harbor of  Stilleryd in Karlshamn, has caused an extensive oil spill outside Blekinge.
Graphics: Johan Hallnäs/TT

Injured birds

The oil has reached land in the municipalities of Sölvesborg and Karlshamn, and many birds have been injured when their plumage was stuck together by oil.

So far, the total amount of oil taken up is estimated to be around 50 cubic meters.

At the same time as the clean-up work is underway, other TT-Line vessels are passing through the affected area in the Pukavik Bay, despite a navigational warning being issued, BLT reports.

The warning applies to an area out to sea, from Listershuvud in Sölvesborg to Sternö in Karlshamn, but there are no prohibitions to pass.

The passenger ferry TT-Line Marco Polo, which is flagged in Cyprus, was on its way from Trelleborg to Karlshamn and then continued to Klaipeda in Lithuania.

On Sunday, October 22, the ship ran aground. The alarm came at 06:25.

In Hanö Bay, the ship had first run aground and started leaking oil.

It then continued for another three nautical miles, which corresponds to five to six kilometers, before it ran onto new ground and got stuck.

Already on the same day, the oil reached land at Hörvik in Sölvesborg municipality. Since then, clean-up work has continued along the coast and at sea.

On Sunday 29 October, the ship slipped off the ground in the afternoon but soon became stuck on another ground, and another oil spill was detected.

An investigation has shown that a GPS on board was broken and that the crew relied solely on it in the fog. Two crewmen have been sentenced to 50 daily fines each for negligence in maritime traffic.

Text: TT Nyhetsbyrå
Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT
Print: Johan Hallnäs/TT

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