Experts check chemical tanker after collision off France

9th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Experts Saturday were checking a chemical tanker towed into a French port after a collision with a freighter forced its crew to abandon ship, maritime authorities said.

The badly listing 120-metre (400-foot) Maltese-flagged Uranus, laden with 6,000 tonnes of solvents, was docked overnight in the naval port of Brest at a quay usually used by aircraft-carriers.

A 500-metre (yard) security cordon and a floating boom had been placed around the ship, although no signs of pollution had been detected, a statement said.

Experts were working out how to put the tanker back on an even keel before transferring the cargo to another vessel, work expected to take the whole weekend.

The ship's 13-member crew took to the life rafts shortly before dawn Friday and were winched to safety by rescue helicopter, leaving the Uranus adrift off France's Atlantic coast.

A deep sea tug was despatched to make the tow of more than 12 hours into Brest, where the two vessels arrived early Saturday.

The tanker had collided with the bulk carrier Hanjin Richzad 50 nautical miles southwest of the island of Ouessant as they were both heading into the Channel.

The Glasgow-based operator V Ships said the tanker was carrying "heavy pygas", an industrial gasoline used to make products including paint.

Maritime authority spokesman Marc Gander said Friday the ship was a modern vessl with a double hull, reducing the risk of the solvents leaking into the sea.

© 2010 AFP

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