Sunday 24 February 2019

Owners make threat to sue UK after ship is grounded

Stormy conditions: The Kuzma Minin off the Cornwall coast
Stormy conditions: The Kuzma Minin off the Cornwall coast

Helena Horton

The owners of a Russian cargo ship which ran aground in Cornwall before being rescued by the British coastguard have blamed "unsafe" UK shipping conditions and threatened legal action.

The ship had more than 100 faults at its latest inspection and was held in the Netherlands for seven months before sailing to the UK.

However, the company has blamed unsafe conditions and said it could bring legal action to recoup the cost of damage to the ship. The Russian Embassy has launched an investigation.

The 16,000-tonne, 590ft ship was grounded in the early hours of yesterday morning and the Falmouth coastguard and the RNLI undertook a day-long mission to rescue it and its 18 crew members near Falmouth, Cornwall.

Volunteers battled through gale force 9 winds to get the Kuzma Minin, which had sailed from Holland to the UK some days previously, safely afloat.

There were worries if it could not be refloated at high tide, around 1.15pm, they would have to wait until the tide came back in at around 1am, leaving the crew members stuck on board. Luckily, they managed to tug it out to sea at around 2.30pm.

Dramatic footage showed a coastguard pilot being winched on to the ship from a helicopter to help those on board.

However, the deputy director of the Murmansk Shipping Company, which owns the Kuzma Minin, said the ship had become stuck due to "unsafe shipping conditions" off the British coast.

Murmansk is one of the primary shipping companies operating in northern Europe and Arctic Russia. "The ship got caught on some sort of chain that was on the bottom of the strait," Ildar Neverov told state news agency RIA Novosti. "There were unsafe shipping conditions in the place where the ship was located. As a result, it passed some distance out of control and ran aground. "

He said he may bring legal action: "We will definitely look at recovery of damages." Theship was reported to have a list of five degrees.

Gales

The Falmouth coastguard declined to comment.

It was thought the weather conditions contributed to the accident with gales recorded at up to 74mph in Cornwall.

Former Falmouth senior pilot captain David Barnicoat told BBC Radio Cornwall: "It's a classic grounding in bad weather and strong winds.

"The wind overnight was pretty horrendous. It sounds as if she dragged anchor and the engines may not have been ready or she may have had some other problem."

The RNLI added: "The lifeboat has been standing by the vessel since to ensure everyone's safety.

"The volunteers have missed a day at work and have re-arranged their plans for the day to help the situation, illustrating their dedication and commitment to saving lives at sea."

© Daily Telegraph London

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