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Thursday, July 19, 2018

A NEW EXPERIENCE IN THE STRAIT OF BOSPHOROS

A Member of INTERTANKO has reported a frustrating experience in the Strait of Bosphoros.

The ship (a Suezmax), loaded with a cargo of 136,000 mt Russian Export Blend Crude Oil from Novorossisk, arrived at the Istanbul Strait entrance at 04:00 on 27/07/2000. At 12:30 hrs. on the same day the pilot boarded the vessel at Turkeli pilot station and the vessel proceeded to transit escorted by two tugs in accordance with the local regulations. At 13:25 hrs l.t., whilst approaching the Kandili area, the vessel’s main engine stopped due to an unexpected technical failure (i.e. drop of oil pressure in the hydraulic control system). Three minutes later the main engine was started after the stand-by pump reached the nominal parameters.

Under pressure from the pilot during the time the engine was stopped, the master dropped the starboard anchor in an attempt to stop the vessel. The moment the anchor was dropped, the main engine was re-started (i.e 13.:28 hrs. l.t.). Due to the speed of the vessel and the depth of the water, it was impossible to stop the anchor which was consequently lost.  On the instructions of the port authority, the vessel took two tug lines from the escorting tugs although she was under her own power and in seaworthy condition.

The vessel anchored in Istanbul roads on the instructions of the port authority. The attending inspector from the port authority confirmed that the vessel was in a safe and seaworthy condition, but in spite of this the head of the port authority did not allow the vessel to sail insisting that the anchor be replaced. A Germanischer Lloyd surveyor went on board in order to inspect the vessel and confirmed the class allowing the vessel to sail with only one anchor for a maximum period of three months.

The Turkish Maritime Management (operators of the escorting tugs) presented the owners with an alleged claim for salvage in an amount of USD 6.5 million, and arrested the vessel until a bank guarantee for the above amount was issued by the owner’s P&I Club. The owner and cargo interest made the necessary arrangements and a bank guarantee for USD 6.5 million was provided. As a result, the arrest was lifted, but the vessel was not allowed to pass through the Dardanelles Straits until the lost anchor and chain had been replaced, although the vessel's class was confirmed by Germanischer Lloyd for three months with only one anchor. The anchor and the chain needed to be brought from abroad and were fixed onboard on the 12/08/2000.

At this point in time, in order to allow passage of the Straits, the local authority presented additional measures, i.e.:

  • 4 tug boats to accompany the passage (instead of the customary two)
  • 2 fire boats (none of them has been required until now)
  • pilot for Marmara Sea and Dardanelles (the pilot for the Marmara Sea was not compulsory)
  • bank letter of guarantee for USD 3 million to cover liabilities to third parties for any incident that may occur during the passage

After some significant efforts, the request for a new bank guarantee was dropped and the ship left Istanbul just before midnight on the 14 August after 18 days!

We will revert with details on further developments.  Although the tanker involved in this incident was of an earlier generation of Suezmaxes and has a length just over 300 metres, the reports indicate that the local authorities may consider the new set of requirements reported above as a condition for the transit of all ships over 250 metres. Reports indicate that these extra requirements were pre-assessed before this incident. It is interesting to note that last month, a bulk carrier of over 300 metres was also ‘stopped’ by the local authorities for two weeks without any other reason than it was too big” for the Straits.

For further information, please mailto:dragos.rauta@intertanko.com