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"Pelican's Peril"

M/V Pelican I Vs. M/V Maersk Bahrain

Feature Date: Aug, 2003

Event Date: July 20, 2003

Countryman & McDaniel

 The Air & Ocean Logistics- Customs Broker Attorneys

"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene -- at Antwerp !

 A 2003 Countryman & McDaniel

Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

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"Pelican's Peril"

On The Scene Near Antwerp

Thousands of Containers At Risk

On The River Scheldt

July 20 2003

M/V Pelican I Vs. M/V Maersk Bahrain

A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

The Time: 2.06 am LT

The Date: Sunday, July 20 2003

The Place: River Scheldt Approach To Antwerp

Here The "Pelican's Peril" Was On The Late Watch For Two Merchants on the River Scheldt

M/V Pelican Vs. M/V Maersk Bahrain

Vessel: M/V Pelican I

Built: 1988

Registry: Malta

Vessel Type: Container

Capacity: 1,939 TEU

Length: 202.5 meters

Beam: 31 Meter

Crew: 25

Injuries: 0

Vessel: M/V Maersk Bahrain

Built: 1975

Registry: Bahamas

Vessel Type: Container

Capacity: 2,328 TEU

Length: 239.2 meters

Beam: 30.5 meters

Injuries: 0

PROLOG >> It's early Sunday, 20 July 2003 -- two hours after midnight -- as two merchants M/V Pelican 1 & M/V Maersk Bahrain -- with thousands of cargo containers -- ply the River Scheldt approach to the mega-port of Antwerp -- near the 'Nauw van Bath' area on the Antwerp side of the river.
From The Cargo Letter>> 1,930 TEU container M/V Pelican 1 suffered severe hull damage in collision with M/V Maersk Bahrain on the River Scheldt near Antwerp on July 20. Dutch river authorities & salvors mobilized pollution control equipment to deal with oil in river while the salvors worked on skimming oil from the surface of water in flooded engine room -- floating crane has removed 317 deck containers from the vessel, and divers have completed a full inspection of the hull. (Sun. July 27 2003)
M/V Pelican 1 had reportedly experienced steering gear problems which lead to the direct collision. Immediately after the accident M/V Pelican 1 reported a black out, damage in the engine room & unknown hull damage. M/V Pelican 1 was making water in her fore peak tank.

The Larger 2,328 TEU M/V Maersk Bahrain was able to make port, but 1,939 TEU M/V Pelican 1 was dead in the water & in danger of sinking.

Same day -- Sunday 20 July -- Multraship Salvage B.V. and URS Salvage & Maritime Contracting N.V. were immediately contracted to conduct operations to save M/V Pelican 1.

Same day -- Sunday 20 July -- authorities closed the River Scheldt to all vessels. Multraship's crew tender M/V Multrajet shuttled 24 crew safely off the casualty. The master and a pilot remained aboard.

Tugs from Multraship and URS pushed M/V Pelican 1 onto a sand bank immediately after the collision to avoid the risk of M/V Pelican 1 sinking and to remove her from the narrow and busy Nauw van Bath shipping lane.
Minor oil pollution occurred just after the collision -- but due to detailed salvage plans of Multraship and URS, there were no threats to the environment although bunkers and chemical cargo were still onboard.
Due to stability concerns, refloating was postponed until all deck cargo was removed. The floating sheerleg 'Cormorant' was utilized to install messenger wires and lifting slings. The floating sheerleg 'Matador 3' was then connected to the stern to stabilize and hold M/V Pelican 1 in position. Some cargo below decks was also removed.
The floating crane 'Cormorant' here in process of removing 317 deck containers from M/V Pelican 1, as divers finished a full inspection of the hull.

Once the tasks were complete, it was now time to attempt the refloat of M/V Pelican 1. Multraship managing director Leendert Muller said of the intended operation:

"We will use 8 tugs and other salvage craft to refloat the Pelican I on the high tide, then move it to the Appelzak anchorage, where we will stabilize the situation. Oil skimmers will be on standby."

Triumphant M/V Pelican 1 Journey Home !!

M/V Pelican 1 was successfully refloated on Monday 28 July at 3:15 AM local time. There were 12 tugs, sheerlegs, pumping craft, tanker for skimming, pollution control vessels and traffic control vessels attending.

Thanks to the skill of the Multraship Salvage B.V. and URS Salvage & Maritime Contracting N.V. salvors, M/V Pelican 1 & her cargo were saved from sinking & total loss of cargo. M/V Pelican 1 was delivered in the Port of Flushing on Tuesday 29 July at 06.00 AM local LT. Cargo discharge. Inspections & dry dock repairs followed.

According to Walter De Schepper, managing director of URS Salvage & Maritime Contracting this is the largest salvage operation in the River Scheldt for many years, and the fact that there has been no significant pollution and very little delay to traffic following a major collision is due to the speed of reaction and expertise of local salvage companies, and their ability to cooperate.

Bravo Zulu to Multraship Salvage B.V. and URS Salvage & Maritime Contracting N.V. salvors !!!


Update: Twice unlucky>>> Once M/V Pelican 1 was at Port of Flushing, unloading operations started. Unfortunately one of the crane operator was killed as the boom of the crane collapsed onto the control cabin, crushing the operator.

Update: From Our Reader Caspar Vermeulen:

"The master of M/V Pelican I seems not to have had good experiences with the Port of Antwerp. On 26 June. Less than a month before the 20 July accident in the Nauw van Bath, she hit the door of the Zandvliet lock, one of two major locks at Antwerp. Here is the information from our local publication, the "Seasearcher":
"Maassluis, Jun 27 -- M/V Pelican I (30824 gt, built 1988), entering lock "Zandvlietsluis", bound Antwerp, was in contact with the lock door, 2320, local time, Jun 26. Door of the lock was slighty damaged and vessel has a two metre dent. Vessel proceeded to its berth. -- Lloyd's Sub-agents.

"This summer was a very unfortunate one for Antwerp in the field of accidents. On 1 August the tug Burcht capesized near the Zandvliet lock after she was hit by the container M/V MSC Noa. Unfortunately an engineer on board the tug drowned. Less than two weeks later, on the 13th, the two car carriers collided near Antwerp. It seems that M/V Grande Nigeria lost power & collided with the M/V Nada V. The master of this vessel tried to avoid the collision by giving full power in reverse. Despite that, the vessels collided bow to bow & got stuck into each other. The aft of M/V Nada V was slightly damaged when the vessel reversed & hit a sand bank. Later that day tugs separated the two vessels.

"I must say that the dikes in our area have become a real tourist attraction. I know because I live just a few kilometres from the Nauw van Bath. You can see my village on one of the photos in this "M/V Pelican I" feature.

Caspar Vermeulen, Rilland, The Netherlands -- Sept. 11 2003
Thanks For Your Contribution Caspar! Start taking a camera with you!

Update: It Happened again -- 24 days later at the same place on the River Scheldt --

See our feature "Scheldt Snafu!" for the collision -- M/V Grande Nigeria Vs. M/V Nada V

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs brokerIt's dangerous out there.


Port of Antwerp

Port of Flushing

The River Scheldt

Multraship Salvage B.V. * Multraship is an 85 year old independent Dutch towage and salvage company established in Terneuzen, its homebase, Flushing and Ghent.

Multraship Salvage B.V. vessels involved in this salvage
M/V Multrajet

URS - Salvage & Towing Union * a unit of SMIT Salvage

SMIT Salvage - 160 years of service

SMIT Salvage participated in raising & salvage of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk from May 18 to Oct. 23, 2001

"Scheldt Snafu!" - our feature tracks the next River Scheldt accident -- 24 days later!

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker.  It's dangerous out there.

Contributors To Our "Pelican's Peril" Feature

Our Contributors for this feature are:
Henk de Pauw, advisor, Euro Info Centre BE007, Regional Development Agency for East-Flanders, Huis van de Economie

Caspar Vermeulen, Rilland, The Netherlands

 Thanks to our contributors,


NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Information For This Loss.

Further Reading: The Historic Ro/Ro Ferry Disasters --

M/V Herald of Free Enterprise car ferry disaster in 1987 near Zeebrugge harbor.

M/V Estonia ferry disaster in 1994

Estonia - what really Happened?

C/F Express Samina - ferry disaster in 2000

M/V Modern Drive - Our Feature May 2001

M/V Modern Drive Page 2

M/V Modern Drive Page 3

M/V La Joola - ferry disaster in Snegal, 2002

M/V Tricolor - our "Thrice Bitten" feature, 2003

M/V Jolly Robino - our feature 2003

Further Reading: The Historic Container Disasters --

M/V OOCL America - Feb. 2000

M/V APL China - world's greatest container disaster of all time - Nov. 1998

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 8th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% Confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our friends send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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