In the early hours of Saturday 19th March, 2022 (Public Holiday in Malta) the 1968 built 209.86 metres tanker CHEM P reported to Valletta VTS that she’s not under command while she was underway from OPL Malta to Bunkering Area 6 for sheltering due to the strong Wind.
0631 hrs – Tugboat SPINOLA left Marsaxlokk Harbour bound to CHEM P position around 5 nautical miles off Grand Harbour (O/GH).
0633 hrs – CHEM P to VTS stated that both anchors are housed and in working order just in case of dropping anchors. Vessel has 20 crew including Indian nationality Captain.
0641 hrs – CHEM P to VTS – Vessel in Ballast Condition and Gas Free. Last Cargo was chemical in bulk. No Fuel Oil as the vessel is a steamship not a motorship. Diesel Oil aboard is 350 metric tons.
0703 hrs – CHEM P to VTS – She is adrift, no anchors in the water and started communications with the salvage tug SPINOLA regarding towing line procedures using a 54mm wire rope.
0717 hrs – CHEM P to VTS – Sea State is 5-6 metres swell , Easterly Wind 45 knots gusting to 49 knots.
0748 hrs – CHEM P to SPINOLA – Current position is 2 nm from shore.
0755 hrs – SPINOLA to VTS – Vessel (CHEM P) has no Line Throwing Apparatus and not easy at all in these conditions, while tug SPINOLA was approaching her bow.
0809 – SPINOLA to VTS – While towing line was being winched up to CHEM P , it snap from the tanker side and tug advised VTS that the best way is that she drop anchors in order to give way to more safety procedures including tug line.
0810 hrs – VTS to CHEM P – Start to walk back the Port anchor in the current position with 3 shackles in the water until the vessel reduce speed.
0819 hrs – CHEM P to VTS – Vessel Speed is 2 knots so VTS instructed to lower 4 shackles.
0821 hrs – CHEM P to VTS – Vessel speed is 1.9 knots, dropping down with 186′ heading.
0823 hrs – VTS to CHEM P – Drop 6 shackles while SPINOLA received order from VTS to try again to the lee side.
0828 hrs – CHEM P to VTS – Dropping more shackles while VTS instructed her to drop 8 to reduce speed over the ground (SOG) which was 2.2 knots.
0832 hrs – SPINOLA to CHEM P – To give more slack as towing line was being heaved up and not to break the mooring rope again, heave up the wire (first priority).
0837 hrs – SPINOLA to VTS – Mooring rope was snapped again.
0837 hrs – CHEM P to VTS – 8 shackles in the water with 1.4 knots as SOG and heading to 177′.
0845 hrs – SPINOLA to CHEM P and VTS – Have problems with main towing wire socket of which has to be fixed. Hour later she was preparing towing wirerope.
1008 hrs – SPINOLA to VTS – Wire Rope Secured.
1015 hrs – VTS to CHEM P – According Harbour Master on VHF that another tug ST.ELMO will be proceeding to the position.
1020 hrs – ST. ELMO to CHEM P – ETA in 30 minutes after she left Grand Harbour (GH) at 1017 hrs.
1040 hrs – ST.ELMO arrives in position.
1107 hrs – ST. ELMO to VTS – Towing wire is being heaved up but unfortunately at 1115 hrs last piece of messenger rope snapped and will try again.
1154 hrs – VITTORIOSA left Marsaxlokk Harbour bound to CHEM P position.
1214 hrs – Both SPINOLA and ST. ELMO wire rope snapped and CHEM P remained anchored (though not clear if she was holding to interconnector cables).
1244 hrs – SPINOLA to VTS – Instructions from Tug Office that SPINOLA will re-enter to Valletta to fix the towing spreader socket and will go back again.
1253 hrs – VITTORIOSA to VTS – To enter Grand Harbour to collect equipment and go back to CHEM P.
1301 hrs – SPINOLA to CHEM P – Wire was damaged from the tanker side when it spreaded.
1321 hrs – ST.ELMO secured again.
1331 hrs – VTS to VITTORIOSA – Duration of stay at GH of which reply was once the equipment is onboard, tug will leave GH asap.
1344 hrs – SPINOLA to VTS – Passing GH breakwaters
1358 hrs – VTS issued a strong wind warning ESE veering Easterly.
1359 hrs – VITTORIOSA to VTS – Underway from Timber Wharf at GH.
1447 hrs – VTS to CHEM P – To email crew list of which it was sent around 1500 hrs.
1502 hrs – SPINOLA to VTS – Underway from Timber Wharf, to proceed to CHEM P , eta in 45 minutes,
1512 hrs – SPINOLA leaving GH breakwaters.
1608 hrs – Harbour Master to CHEM P – To remain in current position due to strong wind with tugs secured until the wind ease (not before Sunday morning).
1615 hrs – Harbour Master to CHEM P – Media speculated that crew abandoned the vessel while Captain confirmed that THIS IS NOT TRUE.
1620 hrs – SPINOLA to VTS – Secured in aft position.
1639 hrs – VITTORIOSA to VTS – Since SPINOLA and ST.ELMO are both secured, tug VITTORIOSA can return back to GH of which permission was granted at 1644 hrs.
1657 hrs – SPINOLA to CHEM P – Since Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF) has been agreed from ship owners to Tug Operators, can you confirm if you have received information. Reply from tanker was that the ship Doesn’t agree.
LOF provides a regime for determining the amount of remuneration to be awarded to salvors for their services in saving property at sea and minimising or preventing damage to the environment. Originating from the late 1800s, it is probably the most widely used international salvage agreement of its kind in the world today.
1704 hrs – SPINOLA to CHEM P – To order crew to do amount of grease on the Panama Fairlead of which CHEM P replied that both forward and aft positions grease was done.
1757 hrs – VITTORIOSA entered GH.
1844 hrs – VTS to SPINOLA and ST. ELMO – Asked if she (tanker) is dragging anchors of which the reply was NO.
2144 hrs – VTS to SPINOLA – Checking swell height – 5 metres ESE and operation in order.
The 54 year old lady was built in September 1968 in the United States of America by Bath Iron Works at Bath, Maine that was founded in 1984 and till date still existing and building ships. She was built as the containership SEA WITCH for an American shipping Line and converted/rebuilt in 1974 as tanker CHEMICAL DISCOVERER until 1982 where she was renamed as CHEMICAL PIONEER until late 2021. Since first November of 2021 owned by a United Arab Emirates Company, though her funnel colours are of the previous American owners she’s trading as CHEM P.
She is currently sailing under the flag of St Kitts & Nevis (KNA Flag) homeported at Basseterre. She’s 209.86 metres long with 27.43 metres beam.
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Published – Saturday 19th March, 2022.