PARIS – An oil tanker and a large cargo ship collided Saturday in the Dover Strait between Britain and France but no casualties or pollution from the accident have been reported so far, French authorities say.
The local Maritime Prefecture said the collision between the two Honk Kong-flagged vessels took place overnight 20 miles (32 kilometres) off the northern French port of Dunkirk, in the British zone of the strait between the English Channel and the North Sea, one of the world’s busiest sea routes. It said none of the tanker’s 27 crew members or the 22 on the freighter was injured.
The prefecture said the 183-meter (600-foot) Seafrontier tanker, which carries 38,000 tons of gasoline, was in a “watched drift” after the collision and that “no pollution was detected at this stage.”
The crew of the 224-meter (735-foot) Huayan Endeavour freighter reported the cargo ship was still able to sail. The freighter had no cargo at the time.
Three French experts were dropped onto the tanker by helicopter and were investigating to assess the next stages of the rescue operation.
British authorities in Dover, which co-ordinates rescue operations, have sent two patrol boats and two helicopters to the area and a French tugboat was also travelling there “in order to be ready to intervene if needed.”
A French anti-pollution ship was put on alert as a preventive measure in the French port of Brest in the western region of Brittany.
The Strait of Dover is a narrow sea passage between southeast England and northern France. It is less than 21 miles (34 kilometres) wide at its shortest distance.
This strait is not only one of the most busiest sea routes in the world, with up to 25% of the world’s maritime traffic passing through it, but is also one of the most difficult areas for ships. The strait often has bad weather, cramped shipping lanes, strong currents, a high tidal range and dangerous sandbanks.