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Environment ministry ‘ready for sinking ship’

Turkish cargo ship caught fire off Masirah Island

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The Turkish cargo ship MV Atlantik Confidence that caught fire off Masirah island.
Gulf News

Muscat: The Pollution Prevention Team at the Oman’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs is in full preparedness to tackle any eventuality from the sinking of Turkish cargo ship MV Atlantik Confidence, according to a senior official at the ministry.

“The Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) has sent ships to the site where the bulk cargo vessel caught fire and we are waiting for their report,” the senior official told Gulf News on condition of anonymity. “We will make an official announcement as soon as we get an RNO report,” he added.

However, he said that the teams at the ministry were put in place with full preparedness to tackle any situation that may arise.

According to a report in the Turkey SeaNews web portal, Liberian flagged the engine room of MV Atlantik Confidence reportedly caught fire last Sunday. The 196-metre-long bulk carrier was headed to Sohar to discharge a shipment of steel.

The ship then asked for assistance. Admiral Antonio Natale, Commander of the Nato Task Force engaged in the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa, ordered the nearest vessel under his command, the frigate USS Nicholas, to proceed at maximum speed and assist, the website reported.

“The ship caught fire about 140 nautical miles off Masirah Island, in international waters,” the ministry official revealed.

In reply to a question, he said that chances of an oil spill were not high. “It is not an oil tanker but a cargo ship and whatever oil that may spill from the engine may get fragmented in water due to wind,” the ministry official said, adding that even if the engine oil spills there are chances that it could evaporate.

However, he gave the assurance that experts were ready to tackle any emergency.

About the crew, he said that there were no casualties and all were on board another ship.

The Turkish news portal said that sensing that the fire was out of control the 21 Turkish seamen abandoned the ship.

The US frigate took command of the rescue operations, dispatching a helicopter to cover the 80 miles to the vessel and assess immediate needs.

When the US frigate’s helicopter saved 21 crew, the merchant vessel had partially sunk but was still floating. The crew were then transferred on board an oil tanker, Pluto, transiting the area and manned entirely by a Turkish crew.

“Once again we were able to provide timely assistance to a merchant vessel in trouble,” Admiral Natale was quoted saying by the Turkish news portal.

“Nato’s role here is to patrol these busy waters to counter the threat of Somali piracy, but aid in case of emergency is historically the first mission of every good sailor and we were more than happy to provide timely assistance,” he added.