Vessel stranded on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast towed to Varna

The cargo vessel Vera Su, stranded on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast on September 20, has been towed to the port of Varna in a lengthy overnight operation ending on October 26.

Caretaker Transport Minister Hristo Alexiev told a briefing in Varna that following talks, the insurers would bear the costs incurred by the state. These costs were being calculated, he said.

The Vera Su was taken in tow by tugs to Varna after the last of its flooded cargo was removed from the vessel, in an operation that repeatedly had been complicated by difficult weather conditions.

According to caretaker Environment Minister Assen Lichev, the unloading of the cargo meant that the risk of pollution of the sea water in the Yailata protected area had been eliminated, and with it the risk to the health and livelihood of the people in the region.

Alexiev bemoaned the fact that Bulgaria was the only maritime country that did not have a rescue ship and equipment. “We had to make a rescue mission out of scrap,” he said.

“We managed to save the crew, save lives in this complex operation and in bad weather, unload the ship and protect the environment, human health and livelihoods,” Alexiev said.

He said that the ship had been rescued even though the owner – he alleged – wanted the opposite, for the ship to sink.

Bulgaria had not been prepared for such an operation, he said.

“While we were planning, we had to repair equipment that was in an ugly condition. Talks were held with companies who said that in these severe weather conditions and at this time of year, they would not undertake the operation,” Alexiev said.

He thanked those who worked during the whole operation – 36 hours, 48 hours, in several shifts.

Lichev thanked all participants in the rescue team.

His ministry quoted him as saying that the rescue team had carried out a complex plan in nine steps, with surgical precision, and had made the accusations against the state and the maritime community evaporate.

Such an operation in the dark part of the day could be performed by few in the world, said Lichev, who has ordered the compilation of a list of participants in the recovery operation to be nominated for state honours.

The captain and second mate of the Vera Su are in custody, facing charges under the Penal Code in connection with the stranding of the vessel, endangering human life and the environment.

(Screenshot via the Facebook page of Radio Varna)

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