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Ship runs aground off Chaguaramas
A 200-foot long decommissioned National Petroleum (NP) fuel tanker, the NP Unity, ran aground in Chaguaramas on Thursday, after strong winds caused it to break free of its temporary moorings a mile off the coast. After initial delays by the Maritime Services Division (MSD) in responding to the situation, the tanker was eventually salvaged from a mud bank 50 feet off the shore of Caledonia Island, where it had landed. Tugboats from the Coast Guard and private operators performed the salvage operation, yesterday.
Phillip Monsegue, chief officer on the water taxi ferry, was sailing the Carnival Runner vessel at 8 am on Thursday and, upon approaching Chaguaramas, spotted the vessel dangerously close to the island. “I took some photos and called the MSD for assistance,” Monsegue told the T&T Guardian. “They told me the guy in charge was not in the country and the guy replacing him was not at work at that time.”
Monsegue feared that if the 60-metre ship had ruptured on the rocks surrounding the island there would have been a diesel spill. “Around 9 am, the T&T Coast Guard came on site but stayed 200 metres off the vessel for one to two hours and apparently couldn't get a tugboat,” he explained. “During the course of the day I was observing the situation from La Soufriere and saw the Coast Guard eventually leave and moor alongside Nelson Island, west of Caledonia.”
At 6 pm in the evening, according to Monsegue, the situation had still not been resolved.