Tugs deployed to rescue out of control tanker off Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq

Updated at 5:15 p.m.

A chemical tanker was out of control off the coast of Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq on Saturday, in very rough seas whipped by high winds.

The 202 meter long tanker Chemistry P has been seen being dragged on the waves on the east coast of Malta since the morning.

Sources said Malta weather that the ship does not carry any dangerous cargo and that it is considered to present a low risk of pollution. Her crew failed to hold the ship’s anchor, sources said.

Tugs deployed for salvage

A Tug Malta tug arrived on the scene shortly before 10 a.m. and managed to halt the tanker’s movement. A second tug reached the site around 10:35 a.m. and immediately began trying to hook onto the tanker.

Transport Malta officers at the scene explained that the two tugs would be used to pull the tanker further offshore, away from coastal rocks that could cause it to run aground.

At 11 a.m., one tug was at the bow of the tanker and the other at the stern. The two vessels maneuvered the bow of the tanker to face the waves.

The operation takes place under the supervision of the harbor master’s office.

A tug prevents the tanker from moving further. Video: Jonathan Borg

In a Facebook post, Transport Minister Ian Borg said Transport Malta was coordinating the rescue operation and confirmed the vessel was considered to pose a low pollution risk.

Passers-by gathered on Saturday to watch the tanker veer dangerously close to coastal rocks.

At 5 p.m., a spokesman for Enemalta said the rescue situation remained unchanged and divers would conduct a visual assessment once the seas calmed down.

the Chemistry P was built in 1968 and has a load capacity of 34930 tons. It is valued at 7.8 million dollars (7.05 million euros). It sports a flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis. The ship was en route to Marsaxlokk from the Spanish port of Algeciras in Cadiz.

Malta was hit by strong winds on Friday evening which continued into Saturday morning, with the weather station at Malta International Airport issuing a gale force warning until 7pm on Saturday. The seas are very choppy, becoming very choppy at high, meteorologists said.

The last tanker to run aground in Malta was the Hephaestusa 60m vessel in 2018. It ran aground on the rocks after a heavy storm and lay stranded off Qawra Point for six months before being retired.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support us

Earnest A. Martinez