Stolt Valor Salvage Ops Progress in Bahrain
As the Kingdom of Bahrain gears up to host the 2012 World Maritime Day Parallel Event in October under the theme “IMO: 100 years after the Titanic”, maritime safety and protection of the environment has always been the top priority for the General Organisation of Sea Ports (GOP) in the on-going operations on the damaged Liberian ship Stolt Valor.
As the regulator of Bahrain’s maritime affairs and the responsible body for ensuring maritime safety, GOP’s team of maritime experts is liaising with the Arab Ship Building and Repair Yard Company (ASRY), which is overseeing the operation together with the ship’s owner, to determine the recommended salvage process of the vessel going forward. The chemical tanker, which caught fire in the early hours of March 15 2012, north of Bahrain, has been docked at ASRY since Thursday June 28, 2012, after Bahrain agreed to accept the ship into its territorial waters.
GOP’s focus on safety at sea and protection of the marine environment comes first and foremost in approving the vessel exit plan, as drafted by the owner and their insurer (P&I). The technical findings following the evaluation of the condition of the tanker are expected by the end of this week.
According to Hassan Ali Almajed, Director General of GOP, “The evaluation of the vessel is continuing as planned and will be done to the highest international standards. We are working closely with the various local and international bodies including environmental and safety experts, to ensure that any risks are immediately addressed and Bahrain’s territorial waters and coastal environs are free from any threat from the Stolt Valor”.
A joint stakeholder committee headed by the GOP, with representatives from Bahrain Coast Guard and the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife (PMEW), was formed when the disaster occurred. After lengthy deliberations that covered environment, maritime safety, legal and national security, Bahrain agreed to give refuge to the ship, which had been turned down by other countries in the region. A sound and secure route plan, clear of all possible obstructions with clear passage of Bahrain’s main navigation channel was required to be in place before the ship was towed. An environmental (anti-pollution) management plan was also required, and the GOP further insisted on having other risk mitigation measures in place before the voyage commenced.
“Bahrain’s expertise and capabilities made it the most suitable country to accept the vessel, especially since we have the region’s leading ship-building and repair yard at ASRY. Once the decision had been made, the operation to dock the Stolt Valor was supervised directly by the most senior officials of the relevant Government organisations. Brigadier Ala Seyadi, Coast Guard Commander; Dr Adel Al Zayani, Director General of the Public Commission for the Protection of Maritime Resources (MRTMF), Environment and Wildlife, and I supervised the vessel's final leg of passage into Bahrain’s territorial waters before it docked at ASRY,” said Mr. Almajed.