A capesize vessel flying the St Vincent flag nearly sank at her berth in the southern Italian port of Taranto after sagging three-quarters of the way through discharge of her cargo. While the 23-year-old bulk carrier does not appear to have broken in two, her mid-section is reportedly touching bottom at Taranto's Ilva pier, where officials face the challenge of unloading the remainder of the cargo.
The 139,800 dwt Lassia was discharging some 126,000 tonnes of iron ore shipped from Mauritania when the incident occurred. First reports cast doubt on how well the operation to unload the ore from the ship, which has five holds, was planned and managed. There is also speculation that the vessel is not covered by any hull and machinery insurance policy.
According to the Taranto maritime authority, after having emptied the bow and aft holds, the vessel's deck collapsed while the central hold was still full. Both aft and bow of the 273 m long ship were above sea level on Friday night (18th November), but the mid-section is reportedly lying on the seabed, suggesting she has severely buckled. It is believed that 30,000-40,000 tonnes of ore remains on board. Plans were being studied for removing this and lifting the ship, which is almost certain to be scrapped. Lassia was classed by the American Bureau of Shipping.
Published in "Lloyds List" on November 15, 1999
Picture courtesy of Mr. Steve Holloway