UpdateGermany's Kiel Canal to stay closed until Wednesday - crash

29 October 2013 15:14  [Source: ICIS news]

(recast, clarifying the collision happened on Monday 28 October)

100-metre long Siderfly listing on GermanyLONDON (ICIS)--Germany's Kiel Canal – the world's busiest artificial waterway – will remain completely closed until late Wednesday morning at the earliest as salvage experts attempt to save a listing fertilizer carrier badly damaged in a late-night collision, a local safety official told ICIS on Tuesday afternoon.

Efforts to stabilise the general cargo carrier Siderfly (Pictured. Source: Havariekommando) are now well underway as response teams race to pump out water from the flooded engine room and drain diesel from the 100m-long vessel's large tanks before any more of the fuel leaks into the water.

Three tugs are being used to keep the carrier parallel with the side of the canal and, if strong winds allow, divers hope to start repairing the stricken vessel, which is loaded with 3,000 tonnes of urea, early on Wednesday. She had been left with two large gashes in her hull in a collision with the LPG tanker Coral Ivory at 02:56am local time on Monday.

The accident near the Port of Brunsbuettel at the canal's western end has fully closed the vital man-made waterway that links the Baltic Sea with the North Sea, and means scores of boats are having to wait to use a canal that handles almost 100 vessels a day.

"We hope the Kiel Canal may be able to partially re-open late morning tomorrow," says Ulrike Windhoevel, spokeswoman for Germany's Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (Havariekommando). "However, I must emphasise that no decision will be taken until tomorrow as we are waiting to see how pumping operations progress and if divers will be able to get a closer look at the damage to the hull.

"Pumps and equipment are at the scene and water is being pumped from the flooded engine room and diesel is being pumped from the tanks to minimise the risk of any other fuel getting into the water. There is also an all-response vessel that is removing diesel from the canal surface.

"We have arranged a meeting for 7.30am on Wednesday where we hope to be able to give a more accurate timeline for the partial reopening of the canal."

The Dutch-flagged Coral Ivory which carries ammonia for Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International, and the St Vincent and the Grenadines-flagged Siderfly are understood to have been heading in different directions when the accident occurred.

The 116m-long ammonia carrier suffered no significant damage and was able to continue on her journey to Uusikaupunki, Finland, with a few thousand tonnes of the nitrogen fertilizer. The Siderfly was en route to Antwerp, Belgium.

According to the website of the Kiel Canal, the man-made marine corridor that cuts through the base of the Jutland Pennisula opened in 1895 and now handles around 35,000 vessels a year, making it the busiest artificial waterway in the world.

By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214

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