Thursday, 25 January 2007

Latest on the Napoli

I wanted to make an entry yesterday but couldn't access my blog! All seems OK now so here goes. Inevitably the Navoli is still making headlines and I want to make a number of comments:

  • All the reports refer to the "MSC Napoli". In this context MSC stands for Mediterranean Shipping Company, I suspect not a lot of people know that...
  • Apparently the MSC Napoli, sailing under a different name and with different owners, was involved in a serious incident near Singapore a few years ago and was nearly written off then. So inevitably one has to query how good the subsequent repairs were.
  • After the heroic rescue of her crew in the storm last Thursday it was evidently the intention to tow her to a port. It sounds as if the French didn't want her (wisely perhaps!) so the decision was made to make for the harbour at Portland. We need to know, from a public enquiry possibly, why she didn't go to Falmouth or Plymouth or Torbay. There could well be perfectly justifiable reasons why none of these was suitable but if it was just a gamble to go for Portland then we should be told.
  • I had been incorrect about the number of containers lost so far from the ship which I took from the media who are notoriously unreliable about such things (I remember the many reports at the time of the Boscastle/Crackington Haven flooding about the cars swept away from Boscastle, the numbers were always changing). Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd manage the MSC Napoli so should know the figures. They say that there were a total of 2394 containers on board originally; at the moment 103 have been lost but the majority of these have been accounted for, either washed up on the beach or in shallow water. That total of 2394 coupled with the pictures of Navoli in the press and on TV gives a fascinating insight into the way the seaborne transport of cargo works. I'm always keen to extend my knowledge in such matters so at least that is one positive from this sorry saga.
  • On Tuesday we saw the start of the transfer of fuel from the Navoli to a small tanker brought up from Falmouth, the Forth Fisher. This process is scheduled to take 1-2 weeks. Two barges, the larger one having 2 substantial cranes, will arrive to lift off the large number of containers still aboard Navoli. I listened to a gent on a phone-in who had had experience of working on container ships, evidently there is some sort of turn and lock mechanism between containers which theoretically stops them separating from each other. The winds have calmed down which will make things easier for the salvage.
  • The nationwide and indeed worldwide attention of the media has focused on Branscombe in the last few days not least because the village was 'invaded' by hundreds of people from all over the country. These scavengers were all over the place until the beach was sealed off on Tuesday. It is one thing a few locals picking up any loose articles floated up on to the beach but these were people from all over the country coming down to see what they could steal. I say steal because they were prising open sealed containers which is theft so far as I am concerned. Apart from that they were blocking the narrow roads in the area and farmers gateways, tramping over residents gardens and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
  • It seems that the intention was for some of these ill gotten gains were to be sold on Ebay. Happily the Ebay people were wise to this and although allowing such things as a handful of sand or a pebble from Branscombe to be sold for charity they have stopped these people from profiteering. Good!
  • The police were caught on the hop so not a good start for the new Chief Constable. They had initially put in place no entry signs on roads leading into Branscombe with a couple of local coppers in attendance. When night came the police went off duty it seems leaving the village unmanned. That might have been alright to just regulate a few locals; nobody seems to have anticipated the way hundreds from all over England would find their way to Branscombe. These were not your decent law abiding people so were not put off by any road closed signs. They left rubbish all over the beach and through the lanes in the village. It was all very well for our Chief Constable to say that the beach was under the jurisdiction of the maritime and coastguard agency and it was legally a problem stopping people going to the beach; I would have thought that in terms of safety and obstruction (parked vehicles) they could have acted sooner. The police do admit that there are lessons to be learned however.
  • With the way Branscombe was saturated with people it was so fortunate that no land based emergency services had to deal with any incidents, if they were needed I don't know how they would have coped.
  • At least one of the washed up containers had personal possessions in it and the owner witnessed her belongings in the crate being opened by a scavenger whilst she was watching a TV news report. So congratulations to the young man from Seaton who was the perpetrator for now admitting his mistake on Radio Devon; I believe a national paper is helping to reunite said artifacts with their owner.
  • The RSPB have stated that there may well be 10,000 seabirds affected by the oil spillage from the stricken ship. The RSPCA are doing their usual good work at West Hatch in cleaning up those birds that have been picked up.
  • There is a terrific amount of litter to be removed both from the village and the shoreline. I've no doubt that there will be a tremendous public response when organisations like the National Trust start appealing for help.
  • What will be the effect on tourism of this incident? Providing there are no long term environmental effects and the litter is removed by Easter then I think that tourism won't suffer too much, in fact the remains of MSC Navoli might be a draw.
  • As always there are some winners: in this instance I would think that pubs and teashops in Sidmouth will be getting extra winter business.
  • Fortunately the whole incident from the air sea rescue up to this moment has resulted in no deaths or serious injuries but certainly there are many lessons to be learned and many things on which to reflect.

1 comment:

shaun said...

Hello,i have read your post and i think you might be interested in the bit of info about the MSC Napoli that a reliable souse of mine told me about.I will let you make your own assumptions about what it implies(possible fraud?),the fact that the ship sailed under a different name before damage repairs, backs up authenticity of my post on the subject.
I will be who sending a print of your post to my source;who i think will find your info very helpful and interesting...yours,Shaun.