ABS has launched a detailed technical investigation into the possible causes of the damage sustained by the 81,589 dwt, Bahamas
-flag tanker Prestige, operated by Universe Maritime Ltd
. "Early reports of the incident have been confusing with respect to the type of damage sustained, the possible causes of the damage and the extent of the pollution that occurred," said ABS President Robert D. Somerville
"Now that the salvors appear to have stabilized the vessel, we have asked all the parties concerned for full details, including the initial and damaged loading conditions so that we can conduct appropriate strength and stability analyses," he said. "We have also established a close liaison with the flag State. We are pleased that they have approved the release of all relevant statutory information to legitimate interested parties as part of our commitment to full transparency."
ABS has also confirmed with Equasis the vessel's Port State Control history.
This shows that it has been inspected five times since 1998 with a record of
zero detentions and only four minor deficiencies.
ABS has carried out an extensive review of the survey history of the vessel,
placing particular emphasis on the extensive steel renewals that
completed as part of the vessel's fifth special survey in May 2001. It is
currently assembling a photographic survey history from files retained in the
classification society's offices in China
. It has also worked with
IACS to verify that there are no sister vessels that may be impacted by the
incident. The Prestige is a Category 1 vessel under the new Marpol 13G requirements. The tanker is not configured for protectively located, segregated ballast tanks (PLSBT). But it is approved for Hydrostatic Ballast Loading
and ABS has
initiated a comprehensive review of the sloshing and other analyses
undertaken as part of that approval. The vessel's phase out date under Marpol
13G is 11 March 2005.
"We have no indication from the data available which would point to a
probable cause for the damage that has been sustained," Somerville confirmed.
"We do not want to make any hasty judgements before we have reviewed all the
facts and data associated with this incident, conducted the necessary
technical calculations and had an opportunity to board the vessel and
physically inspect whatever structural damage there may be.
"The gaugings that are recorded in the vessel's survey file are in accordance
with class Rules and give us confidence that the fabric of the ship will
prove equal to the challenge of minimizing the risk of further pollution,"
the ABS President said. "It is to be hoped that an appropriate place of
refuge can be offered to the salvors so that necessary cargo transfer
operations can be conducted quickly and safely."