Two Ships Added to EU's Oil Spill Recovery Fleet

The European Maritime Safety Agency now has 16 vessels under contract after awarding two contracts Nov. 17 that boost its capacity for oil spill recovery along the entire European coastline.

The European Maritime Safety Agency awarded two contracts on Nov. 17 that boost its capacity for oil spill recovery in the Northern Baltic Sea and Channel/Atlantic portion of the waters around member states. The contracts are with Finnish shipowner Finstaship to use the icebreaker Kontio when it is not working during ice-breaking season and also Belgian shipowner Aegean Bunkers at Sea’s Sara to operate from Portland, England, and provide spill response in the English Channel and its Atlantic Ocean approaches. Both ships will be in service beginning in the second half of 2010, EMSA announced. The agency will have 16 vessels in its network of contract oil recovery ships when these two are added.

The Swedish shipping magazine Shipgaz ( posted this photo of the icebreaker Kontio by Pär-Henrik Sjöström."Since EMSA was set up following the Erika and Prestige oil spills, we have been successful in reinforcing the Community Civil Protection Mechanism through our network of Oil Pollution Response Vessels that improve Europe's ability to respond to major oil spill incidents. These two latest contracts cover two sea regions that need to be very closely monitored. First, the Channel area and Atlantic approaches experience extremely heavy sea traffic, with transiting oil tankers supplying millions of tonnes of crude each year to refineries across Northern Europe. Second, the North Baltic sea area is a very fragile marine and coastal zone, where concerns for environmental protection must be balanced with increasing oil tanker traffic, particularly through the Gulf of Finland. The two new, fully-equipped vessels add a combined additional response capacity of 8,600 cubic meters and will cost the agency around 8 million euros -- including equipment -- for three years, representing excellent value,” said Willem de Ruiter, EMSA’s executive director.

EMSA assists member states with their responses to ships’ pollution. The agency’s spill recovery ships are able to respond to the entire European coastline. The ships perform normal commercial operations on a daily basis but can be adapted at short notice to serve as oil spill response vessels.

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