Swedish authorities are discussing next steps for the fire-ravaged German bulker Almirante Storni located south of the small island of Vinga. According to local media, the decision has been made to tow the Liberian-flagged ship carrying burning timber to the port of Gothenburg.
The shipowner NCS reported that the fire had been extinguished. However, it noted that the latest infrared images, taken by helicopter, still showed some heat nests.
Firefighting operations have been ongoing since last Saturday. Several ships have been engaged on the site, including the Norwegian Coast Guard’s KV Bergen, together with five other ships from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Swedish Coast Guard said the extra extinguishing resources, with a total of 9,600 cu m of water sprayed per hour, had provided an increased damping effect, but that the fire was still burning.
On Thursday, the Coast Guard announced that they would make an attempt to move the ship. It said that favourable weather conditions should be used to tow the burning ship to port, or at least to calmer waters, warning that if the ship sinks, in the worst case, 600 tonnes of oil fuel could leak into the sea.
“The ship can not stay where she is, she needs to be moved to a place in the calmer waters or to the port. We are accelerating that process, time is running out and the forecast shows that severe weather will soon be here,” said Coast Guard’s Fredrik Hallerström.
“Owners are in close contact with the local authorities to prepare further steps and bring the vessel into the port. The situation on board remains closely monitored by all involved parties,” NCS said in its latest update.
The 17 crewmembers and all other responders have been reported safe, and there is no danger to the environment from fuel oil or other harmful substances.
Meanwhile, police and prosecutors have started a preliminary investigation into what may have caused the fire. Interrogations were conducted with the crewmembers onboard the ship on Thursday, but according to local media reports, there was no suspicion that the fire was intentionally started.