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Egypt Detains Gas Carrier After Grounding in Environmental Preserve

grounded tanker
Claudia Gas grounded near a popular tourist destination and marine reserve in Egypt (Ministry of Environment)

Published Apr 15, 2024 5:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Egyptian authorities are detaining a Liberian-registered gas carrier after the vessel grounded in an environmentally sensitive area in the Gulf of Aqaba. Salvage teams were able to refloat the vessel and move it into a secure anchorage near Safaga, Egypt in the Red Sea.

The Claudia Gas, a 16,000 dwt vessel built in 1990, had completed offloading in the Jordanian port of Aqaba and was reportedly sailing to Russia when the vessel blacked out on Friday, April 12. It grounded Friday night in the Ras Nasrani area, near the Egyptian tourist town of Sharm El Sheikh. The Environmental Ministry put resources on alert for a possible oil spill but reports the vessel was refloated with so far, no signs of a leak. The gas tanks were empty.

Egyptian authorities were already on alert in the area as it was the Eid Al-Fitr celebration that comes at the end of the Muslin holy month of Ramadan. It is a busy tourist time and they reported that they were expecting a large inflow of tourists to the popular marine reserve. They were expecting increased activity on the beaches, with divers, and yachts traveling in the area. Coastal monitoring had been underway during the holiday and was increased after the grounding.

Unconfirmed reports from the Egyptian media said the gas tanker lost propulsion causing the grounding. They are suggesting the vessel could be fined in the tens of millions of dollars depending on the level of damage in the marine reserve.

Divers were reported to be following the path of the vessel inspecting the coral reef for possible injuries. Minister of the Environment Dr. Yasmine Fouad said post-accident inspections were underway. The studies are measuring the damage to the coral reef and expected recovery rates as well as the possibility of undertaking specific restoration efforts.

The vessel, which has been managed by Zeus Lines of Greece since 2020, was inspected in February 2024 in Aqaba. At the time it was cited for inoperative gauges but no detention was imposed.