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Crew seek access to damaged tanker

The crew of the tanker Kashmir, whose side was ripped open in a collision with a container ship off Dubai on Tuesday, are yet to carry out a full damage assessment.

DUBAI // The crew of the tanker Kashmir, whose side was ripped open in a collision with a container ship off Dubai on Tuesday, are yet to carry out a full damage assessment. "Some of our officers were allowed on board briefly on Wednesday, but only for a few hours," Loris Servadei, of the vessel's Italian owners Martinoli Consulting, said from the firm's headquarters in Genoa, Italy.

"From what they were able to tell in that time, the engine room appears to be fully operational, but we need to check the tanks with the cargo in them to assess the possibility of discharging it, and we cannot do that until we are allowed on board. "The vessel is still at a safe anchor.We are confident that we may be able to remove the cargo safely, either by bringing it into port or by a ship-to-ship transfer, but we don't have enough information to determine whether we can do that yet."

He also said the voyage data recorder had not yet been recovered. The device, similar to flight data recorders on aeroplanes, "will help us learn what happened". The Kashmir was carrying 30,000 tonnes of liquefied natural gas from Iran to Jebel Ali when it collided with the Sima Saman as it approached the port. The Kashmir suffered substantial damage to the middle of its port side, but the area where it was hit was empty of cargo, and environmental assessments suggest that little was spilt into the sea. Both ships were damaged by a fire that was started by the collision.

The Kashmir "is listing a little to the port side, but she is stable and we do not see much problem in moving her or transferring the cargo", Mr Servadei said. "We are clearly pushing to be allowed to examine the possibilities and decide what the best thing to do is, but so far we just have to wait." The Sima Saman was allowed to return to Jebel Ali port on Wednesday, and representatives of her operators, Simatech Shipping and Forwarding of Dubai, went on board yesterday.

"The crew have returned and are carrying out a full damage assessment," said Amir Maghami, managing director of Simatech. "The ship has suffered quite significant damage to her bow, and around 20 containers have been damaged by fire, although we have not yet been given permission to open them so we do not know exactly what is in them or whether the contents have been affected. "There is an underwater survey going on to see the extent of the damage there, but it is much too early to estimate how much it might cost. Repairs to the bow are usually more difficult because the metal plate is thicker there, but the UAE is one of the best places for ship repair in the world.

"Our priority at the moment is to transfer the cargo on to another ship so it can continue on to its destination. We hope to be able to do that in the next couple of days." Both ships had been under the control of harbour pilots, whose job it is to guide vessels in and out of port, at the time of the crash. Visibility had been significantly reduced by fog. DP World, the operator of Jebel Ali port, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

gmclenaghan@thenational.ae

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