Container ship MSC Napoli, abandoned by its crew during storms in the Channel and run aground off Devon on the southern English coast on Saturday to stop it sinking, is shedding cargo and leaking oil.
Canted at a 30 degree angle and with one leaking fuel tank, the vessel has already lost nearly 160 of the 2,400 containers on board, a coastguard spokesman told Reuters on Sunday.
“There has been a leakage from a ruptured engine room tank and unfortunately the boom that was deployed to stop that had to be removed because of the containers,” the spokesman said, stressing that there was little damage to the environment.
He said two of the containers contained potentially dangerous materials — perfume, battery acid and car parts — but again the environmental risk was small.
The ship was coming afloat at each high tide and could still capsize, so the two French tugs accompanying it were trying to drag it further inshore to prevent that possibility.
“It is a rather unstable condition, and we sincerely hope the weather doesn’t deteriorate,” the spokesman said.
Once it is firmly beached the ship will be flooded to prevent further movement and the fuel tanks will be pumped out to avoid further pollution.
Then floating cranes and flat-bottomed barges will be brought in to offload the containers, the coastguard added.
The Napoli was bound from Belgium to Portugal, the ship’s owners Zodiac Maritime said on their Web site.
The British-flagged MSC Napoli, 62,277 dead-weight tonnes, was holed on the starboard side in Thursday’s storms, forcing the 26 crew to take to a lifeboat from which they were winched to safety by a helicopter.