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Maritime and Coastguard Agency 'MSC Napoli' Report delivered to Devon public inquiry

Maritime and Coastguard Agency 'MSC Napoli' Report delivered to Devon public inquiry

MARITIME AND COASTGUARD AGENCY News Release (362-08) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 6 November 2008

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency today delivered its in-depth 103 page Report to the Chairman of Devon's local Inquiry into the circumstances leading to the beaching of the MSC Napoli off the East Devon coastline.
The Report summarises the Agency's activities from the moment the incident broke on the 18th January 2007, when the MSC Napoli was on passage in the English Channel, loaded with 2,318 containers and bound for South Africa and when she suffered a catastrophic hull failure and got into severe difficulties.

A number of possible locations were assessed by both the French and British authorities for a place of refuge on both sides of the Channel; however, the south coast of England provided better options for a place of refuge. The conclusion was that the least environmentally risky option was to tow the vessel to a place of refuge in UK waters.

Working with the French authorities, the Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) decided that the ship was in danger of breaking up and polluting the English Channel and should be towed to Portland Harbour.

The SOSREP consulted with local authorities and environmental bodies to the fullest extent possible within the time available. With the condition of the ship deteriorating rapidly, it was necessary for the salvors and the SOSREP to make a fast decision in order to avert a potential environmental catastrophe.

During towing, the weather deteriorated and the salvors and the SOSREP decided to beach the ship in Lyme Bay to minimise the pollution threat.

The MSC Napoli was beached in Lyme Bay on 20 January 2007.

Over the next six months the 3,500 tonnes of fuel oil and the containers were systematically removed. The final container was removed on 17 May 2007.

Explosives were used to split the MSC NAPOLI into two sections. On 20 July, the ship was successfully split into two pieces and the bow section was towed a short distance away.

The bow section of MSC NAPOLI was removed from Lyme Bay and taken to Harland and Wolff's dismantling facility in Belfast in mid-August 2007. The remaining stern section was left in situ in Lyme Bay, to be cut up and taken away to a recycling facility.

Toby Stone, Head of the Agency's Counter Pollution Unit said

"The successful way in which the MSC NAPOLI was handled demonstrates the effectiveness of the UK's arrangements for handling incidents at sea and the professionalism of all of those involved.

"We also hope that our submission to the Inquiry will set the record straight on several issues, including of course, the overriding practical reasons for beaching the vessel at Branscombe, and the function of a Shoreline Response Centre. In this case there was no need for such a Centre to co-ordinate the shoreline clean-up operation because the third party insurers retained the services of contractors to do the necessary clean-up work.

"The finalised report will not only be published for general consumption but is intended also to form the Government's contribution to Devon County Council's MSC Napoli Public Inquiry, for which public hearings started on 3 November 2008 and will finish on 7 November 2008.

"The report is a factual account of the response to the incident, with conclusions, lessons learned and recommendations. In addition to the response by the MCA, it includes coverage of the actions of other relevant authorities."

Notes For Editors

1. Copies of the Report are electronically available as a navigable .pdf from the MCA Press Office on the number below or from the MCA web site. (

2. The local Devon County Council Inquiry has been invited to consider:
* to what degree the environmental sensitivity of the coastline should be a factor in determining places of refuge for shipping in emergencies;
* whether the UK coastline, marine and estuarine environment is adequately protected under existing legislation;
* whether international shipping conventions are rigorous enough and fully supported internationally;
* whether the statutory powers in respect of salvage of goods are sufficiently clear and robust and the relative responsibilities of agencies sufficiently well-defined and understood to prevent public disorder.
In carrying out its task the Inquiry will also take into account:
* the impact of the MSC Napoli on the economy, environment and well-being of local communities;
* the effectiveness of the various agencies involved in responding to the incident, their areas of responsibility, their inter-relationship and relationship with local communities, and identify any constraints such as resources, communications, command and control systems, and training.

For further information please contact
Maritime and Coastguard Agency Press Office, on: (023) 8032 9401

Press releases and further information about the Agency is available on the Web at

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