In December, 2004, a huge quantity of crude oil
was spilt in the Suez Canal
after the north-bound very large crude carrier Al Samidoon collided
with a structure in the waterway while in transit.
An inquiry into the cause of the incident
to the Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) vessel,
which had Suez Canal pilots embarked, has begun.
Speaking to Classification News, KOTC fleet
engineering and project group manager Mahmoud Abdullah
recently shared his views on the cause of the December Suez oil spill.
“On December 14, 2004, Al Samidoon,
whilst transiting through the Suez Canal
under the control of two pilots of the Suez Canal Authorities
and loaded with 198,000 tons of crude oil,
struck the bank of the canal in an effort
to avoid collision with a moored dredger.
The vessel was in very good condition at the time of the accident.
Recently dry-docked, Al Samidoon had obtained
a Condition Assessment Program (CAP) rating of ONE for the hull
and was on her first loaded passage
after drydock when the accident occurred.
Suez Canal pilots were onboard and manoeuvring the vessel
at the time of the collision.
However, under traditional maritime law,
it is the master/company which is held responsible for any
accident, not the pilot – even though common sense dictates
that the pilots should be held responsible in the Al Samidoon case.
In the case of Al Samidoon, the damage was extensive.
The vessel is currently undergoing damage-repair work in Dubai Drydocks,
and at this stage the initial estimate of the steel renewal has
doubled to 550 tonnes.
The total cost is expected to exceed USD 5 million,
with no final figure in sight.
In this day and age and considering the complexity
of the shipping industry,
we believe it is time for such traditional laws
to be updated to be more in tune with reality.”
(NOTE: Mr. Abdullah’s views do not necessarily reflect
the views of Det Norske Veritas.)