A damaged tanker, Castor, carrying 29,000 tons of gasoline is being held outside Moroccan waters by the Coastguard, its Greek operator Athenian Sea Carriers said. "The Moroccan Coast Guard has instructed the vessel to move 40 miles offshore," an Athenian Sea Carriers spokesman told Reuters. "The master and crew are taking all necessary fire prevention precautions."
The company said it had instructed the vessel to head for the Moroccan port of Nador to seek refuge on New Year's Day. The damage developed during heavy weather between December 26 and December 31 on a voyage from Constanza in Romania to Lagos. The company said a surveyor at the site had reported that the crack occurred along a transverse butt-weld next to number four hold. Lloyds agents quoted the Moroccan navy as saying that crack was 20 m long, but that the tanker was not leaking cargo. All 26 Polish officers and crew remain on board. "In that kind of swell the deck plates will be rubbing against each other and might cause a spark," one tanker expert said. "They can keep hosing it down, but if the cargo is gasoline, the longer they keep it out there the greater the risk."
"The crew might just hear the beginning of the bang
," said one London-based surveyor. The salvage company Tsavliris has been appointed to support any towage or transhipment operations.
"One of the options available to the salvors is to request permission of the Spanish and Gibraltar authorities to enter more sheltered waters," Athenian Sea Carriers said in a statement.