A weather-beaten cargo ship has broken in half around Christmas Island off Australia’s western coast. The Panamanian-registered MV Tycoon has spilled fuel and phosphate into the sea as a result of its breaking.
According to ABC News, the ship hit a sea wall after a large swell. The crew had been loading phosphate at an offshore mooring. Authorities state that there were an estimated 102 tons of intermediate fuel oil, 32 tons of diesel oil and 260 tons of phosphate onboard.
The crew of 15 jumped from the ship into the water to await The Navy’s arrival and rescue. Two members were injured.
Environmental scientist, Dr. Nic Dunlop, believes that the impact of the heavy bunker oil on threatened species and the coral band around the island will be devastating. He listed sea bird populations as the highest risk. Christmas Island officials are hoping that the damage will be minimal, as the leaking oil is being dissipated by strong waves and winds. Aircraft evaluation of the damage is not yet possible due to low cloud conditions.
Clean-up efforts are currently underway. Maritime safety expert are also investigating whether the Tycoon breached any navigation laws and why the ship was not turned away in the extreme weather in the usual Christmas Island fashion. Talks were in progress involving government officials and representatives of the ship's owner and insurer about removing the wreckage obstructing the island's main berth.
Watch the news report below:
Photo credit: Australian Maritime Safety Authority http://www.amsa.gov.au