APL Panama Finally Freed

Monday, March 13, 2006
The APL Panama finally broke free from the sandy beach where it ran aground Christmas Day. It was 4:40 a.m. when the 874-foot container ship returned to the sea. Less than three hours later, the vessel was two miles offshore, undergoing inspection of its hull, while bulldozers worked to restore the beach where the ship spent the past 75 days. Under general average, the commonly used international legal procedure, the expenses will be shared by the vessel's German owners, Mare Britannicum Schiffahrtsgesellschaft MBH & Co.; APL, the global container transportation company that chartered it; and the numerous cargo interests. The amounts are subject to negotiation. With its propeller damaged, the ship can't leave Ensenada until the salvors, the ship's owners and Mexican government inspectors have examined its condition. In addition, Mexican authorities won't allow the vessel to leave until the beach where it was stranded is restored. The APL Panama ran aground at 6:12 p.m. Dec. 25, as it prepared to enter the port of Ensenada on a regularly scheduled trans-Pacific run. Mexican authorities attribute the incident to human error on the part of the vessel's Croatian captain, Zupan Branko; sworn testimony suggests he broke port rules by steering the ship into restricted waters without waiting for the guidance of a port pilot. The APL Panama was loaded with more than 1,800 containers when it ran aground, many of them holding electronic components from Asia for factories in Mexico. Nissan, Sony and Panasonic are among the affected companies. (Source: San Diego Union Tribune)
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