Written by Staff Writer at CNN
Alongside the danger of traveling by sea, there can be the daily risk of pollution. Trapped within currents, ships can be either reeled in or tossed around on the seabed — or worse, sunk.
This is precisely what happened to a heavy cargo ship, operated by Colombian shipping company Fincantieri. The big ship was in port in Vietnam when it started running aground, during a difficult tropical cyclone. The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.
The 3,000 ton ship, owner-contracted the container operator OmniStar, collided with the reef. Its net lifted the sleeping quarters of a passing fishing vessel, before the full force of the storm claimed the ship off Vietnam’s east coast.
A photographic record
But that didn’t stop an amateur photographer from capturing a unique, underwater note in the history of the disaster. The hole caused by the accident stretches 21 meters out into the sea, and shows just how vulnerable a ship is to harm during a storm.
– Natalie Xenopoulos, Director of Communications and Brand Marketing, Oceana
There has been a history of ships caught in storms, and sinking off the coast of Vietnam since 2008, when the Hien Long sank in stormy seas. Although sinking during bad weather is rare, sunken vessels are a sign of severe storm surges and heavy coastal pollution.
“We’ve spent the last 15 years trying to reduce and stop shipping pollution along the coast, and aren’t there are many other solutions out there?” says Xenopoulos. “So let’s focus on those solutions, rather than going and throwing ships into these small holes.”
– Michele Ohayon, Environment Specialist, Oceana
Earlier this year, Oslo-based NGO Oceana put the spotlight on the Gulf of Nicoya, where an average of 46 ships a year have gone down since 2012, every year.
According to Xenopoulos, the true risk to ships in the waves is that they can become entangled and drift along the coast, leaving a pollution trail in their wake.
“There are many alternatives to just throwing them into the water with a very small hole in the hull,” she says. “But until more of them are floating on the seafloor, there’s really no way to have an effective agreement for the cleanup.”
– Alexis Miranda, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
“We’re hoping that as the oil industry becomes more aware of the pollution that it’s causing, that they’ll take some more responsibility for it.”
According to Ohayon, the only solution is to invest in ship-shape vessels which stay in ports as long as possible, minimising their vulnerability during storms.