ABS has released its fifth information update regarding the Prestige casualty, which provides preliminary comments regarding initiating damage to the vessel. ABS is cooperating with the Bahamas Maritime Authority in the investigation into the possible cause of the damage to the tanker Prestige that led to its sinking on 19 November 2002. A detailed technical assessment and report should be released early February 2003. At this stage preliminary comments are presented as background information only and are based substantially upon information made public by other sources.
The photograph shows vessel in severe weather, taking beam seas on starboard side, with reportedly extensive damage to gangway and manifold drip pans. As reported by master and crew, there was an "explosive" sound and shudder. Apparently this was one event and not sequential. Possible initiating causes are described as follows:
- Potential external initiators: News reports stated that at least three (3) vessels lost part of their cargo in the area. One vessel was carrying containers, another wooden logs and a third carried pipes. Damage could be caused by impact with floating logs, impact with floating container, or breaking wave impact.
- Potential internal initiators: explosion is unlikely because no evidence of explosive deformation in surrounding structure; structural failure in way of Frame 71 reported to cause flooding of starboard #2 aft and #3 wing.
- Potential operational initiators: The ramifications of the vessel being in bunkering service for two (2) years, from October 2000 to the start of this voyage, with a large fender positioned at Frame 71 starboard require further evaluation.
- Potential repair initiators: The ramifications of extensive structural repair in way of Frame 71 starboard in May 2001 require further evaluation.
Investigation and analysis are underway but no apparent structural cause has yet been determined. ABS maintains a section on its web site, which contains all relevant information and is updated as more information becomes available.