Cargo Ship Damaged After Collision Off Istanbul

By Salon Staff

Published January 20, 2012 2:00PM (EST)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A cargo ship brushed against two anchored vessels during severe weather off the coast of Istanbul on Friday and was left tilted to one side and taking on water, officials said.

A senior maritime official said the disabled ship is not in danger of sinking, but most of its crew members were evacuated.

The cargo ship's struggle comes during a time of heightened attention on ship safety following last week's grounding of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off Italy's coast, an accident that killed 11 people and left 21 missing. Also Friday, a freighter ran aground off a Dutch beach.

In the Istanbul area, the Sierra Leone-flagged Kayan-1, an 86-meter (282-feet) freighter carrying empty containers, tilted on its right side after drifting and colliding with the two anchored freighters in strong winds.

"It cannot sink," Salih Orakci, head of the General Directorate of Coastal Safety, told reporters. "But we are not able to intervene fully because of the weather conditions."

Orakci said the only apparent option at the moment was to pull the ship aground, if the captain approves. "But if the weather improves, we may have other options," he added.

Three captains of the ship remained aboard to steer the ship, which is pumping out the water, authorities said. Ten other crew members were evacuated. Five maritime officials boarded the Kayan-1 to assess the situation, then left the vessel.

The ship was trying to moor due to the severe weather when it got dragged and brushed against two other cargo ships: the Netherlands-flagged Slochterdiep and Tanzania-flagged Adria Blu. The Kayan-1 came to a halt near the shore at a depth of 9-meter (30-feet), Coastal Safety said on its website.

Authorities have canceled several scheduled ferry trips in the Sea of Marmara and in the Bosporus, the narrow waterway that bisects Istanbul, due to strong winds and high seas.

Separately Friday, a Philippine-registered freighter ran aground off a Dutch beach after its anchor slipped in an overnight storm.

The 500-foot (155-meter) Aztec Maiden was carrying no cargo when it drifted onto sand off the North Sea coastal town of Wijk aan Zee, 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of Amsterdam, the Dutch Coast Guard said.

The 21 crew members stayed on the ship. Tug boats will attempt to pull the vessel free at high tide around 1 p.m. (1200 GMT).

Spokesman Peter Verburg told national broadcaster NOS that the Coast Guard was closely monitoring the ship for any fuel leaks.


Associated Press Writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed.

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