Molasses Tanker With Same Flag, Class As Erika Detained In France

Friday, January 28, 2000
A 27-year-old molasses tanker escorted to Falmouth in the U.K. after safety defects were found was flagged and classed by the same bodies responsible for the Erika, the tanker that spilled oil on French beaches last month. The Malta-flagged Santana 111, which was detained by French port inspectors, was classed fit to sail by Italian classification society RINA from February 1999, a RINA official said. Erika, which broke up in December causing massive pollution to French beaches, was also registered by Malta and RINA. RINA communications manager Gianfranco Damilano pointed out that the Santana 111 was used for carrying molasses, indicating that if it broke up it would not do the same damage as an oil tanker. "This is not the same as the Erika," he said. Santana 111 has been laid up in Falmouth after French port inspectors in Brest allowed it to sail for repairs to a number of defects, a U.K. Marine Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said. The ship was found to be suffering from severe general and localized corrosion as well as defects including inoperative emergency fire pumps and carbon dioxide alarms, she said. Damilano said the Santana 111 had been first classed by the Italian agency in February 1999. The ship was last inspected in Chittagong, India in November and its classification confirmed for a further month pending renewal of its foam liquid firefighting equipment, he said.RINA also classed the ship for its single voyage to Falmouth after the vessel was detained in Brest. "We carried out an inspection in Brest and found a number of repairs were needed before the ship sailed again," Damilano said. Damilano stressed that ships classed by other societies were also detained regularly for safety defects. "RINA's record is better than many other classification societies. In 1999 the U.S. Coast Guard rated RINA as excellent after not making a single detention of a RINA vessel," he said. Santana 111's former operator Greek company Glyfada said it stopped managing the vessel after it discharged a cargo at Bordeaux in January. Norway's Christiana Bank, which has a first mortgage on the vessel, said a client had taken control of the ship but declined to comment any further. It is possible that the ship will be sold for scrap rather than repaired, a source said. - (Reuters)

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