The Danish company Maersk Supply Service have been asked by the French coast guard agency Prefecture Maritime Atlantique to continue to investigate the risk of pollution from two platform supply vessels that sank in the English Channel last year.
On the night of Dec 21, the Maersk Searcher and Maersk Shipper, each of 4,013gt, were under tow off Sein Island on their final voyage to a Turkish yard for breaking up. For unknown reasons, the two vessels took on water and sank about 60 miles off the coast. Shortly after the accident, a Maersk Supply Service official said that both ships had been emptied of fuel and lubricants in preparation for scrapping.
However, a review of the ships’ records led authorities to estimate that at the time of the sinking, they contained roughly 100cu m (25,000 gallons) of hydrocarbon residues each, which could pose a risk to the environment if released. After a request from the French authorities, Maersk Supply agreed to locate the wrecks, and at the end of December, the multi-purpose support ship Jif Surveyor, 159gt, found them at two separate positions.
The Prefecture Maritime Atlantique asked Maersk to further investigate to determine how much damage they had sustained and whether they posed any risk of pollution. Maersk Supply chartered the survey vessel Jif Xplorer, 489gt, and an ROV to examine the two wrecks, and found that each had suffered heavy damage to their bows on striking the seabed and there was no evidence of oil pollution at the scene.
However, the French Navy and French Customs air patrols have observed an iridescent sheen in the vicinity of the wreck sites on several occasions.