Current Affairs
WATCH: Diver’s discovery convinces him how Hephaestus ran aground at Qawra

While the Hephaestus vessel, which ran aground in Qawra last February is currently at a private dockyard for repairs, the technical investigation on the accident is continuing by Transport Malta. The 10th February storm was the major factor for the shipwreck, while diver Raniero Borg who in recent days filmed the area’s seabed, believes and speculates that there may be other reasons which caused the captain to lose control of the vessel.

Diver Borg is familiar with the seabed in the St Paul’s Bay area as he has been diving there for the past 35 years. He told TVM he cannot understand how the tanker’s anchor did not hold to anything before the vessel ran aground on shore. Six months after the accident, Raniero was diving a few distance away from the tanker and he saw the anchor’s chain.

“I started moving with the chain, and said to myself this is the vessel’s chain. I swam along it for some 300 metres and found the anchor”.

He added: “This anchor you are seeing in the footage, got stuck with the ropes of the fish farm; I think they were the tuna ones which were left there to pull the cages outside. As these ropes were some 500 metres long, and together with the weights on the rope, therefore the anchor was not working properly. It either fell sideways and could not anchor or the anchor did not touch the seabed”.

Raniero believes that the captain lost control of the vessel due to other obstacles found in the stormy sea. “I think the captain switched on the vessel’s engine to control it and found another rope on the surface which locked the propeller, as can be seen in the video, and he could do nothing more”.

On the day of the accident the vessel’s captain, Joynal Abedin, recounted to TVM that suddenly he couldn’t control the tanker and was seeking shelter. Abedin said, “within 3 to 5 minutes everything is finished, we cannot control anymore vessel because we were near the shore, hitting the storm.”

Transport Malta’s head of maritime investigations, Kevin Ghirxi, said that the investigation on the accident is not yet concluded and is expected to end in February next year. Information on the accident is being analysed.

Mr. Ghirxi added, “A safety investigation is a bit academic, technical and purely related to maritime safety. We are examing how these factors relate to the accident so that we eventually arrive at the conclusion why the vessel ran aground and then issue recommendations to avoid a similar accident”.

Mr Ghirxi said that it is not in the investigation remit to point fingers on anyone.

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