MV Thermopylae Sierra Sinks in Sri Lanka

A Cyprus flagged vessel which remained in Sri Lankan waters since 2009 following a court order which prevented it from leaving, sank on Thursday raising concerns of environmental impact. MV Thermopylae Sierra sank at sea close to the shores of Panadura, just outside the capital, even as the court case over the vessel continued in Sri Lanka.

The 155-meter long and 127-meter wide ship manufactured in 1985 was detained in Sri Lanka on a court order after a dispute involving the cargo and its crew.

Engineers were kept on board the vessel but they withdrew saying they had not been given food or other basic facilities.

The condition of the ship began deteriorating as it remained at sea without being maintained and subsequently it began taking in water. The bad condition of the ship is depicted in the following photos where rust and corrosion can be seen in many areas of the vessel.

Engineers onboard the ship had warned that some of the cargo which were still on the ship as it sank could harm marine life in the area. The biggest concern was as the ship sank very close to the shore.

However the Sri Lankan Marine Environment Protection Authority said that most of the oil from the ship had been removed before the vessel sank so they did not expect a major environmental impact.

“There was some 350 tons of oil on the ship but most of it was removed and now there is less than 75 tons on board. A contingency plan is now underway to face whatever environmental impact even that little oil may cause once it begins to surface,” Jagath Gunasekera of the Marine Environment Protection Authority told Xinhua.

He said that after the ship fully sinks the oil will begin to surface but it can be cleaned immediately since it is a small amount.

However he said that based on the wind conditions the oil may drift to other locations so measures need to be taken to address the issue.

Source: Xinhuanet, Sunday Observer


  1. KingRavana says:

    This is a country who has no proper national plan for oil spill combat or a coast guard to observe, organizations are just for name sake but no value or has any understanding of what damages cold incur if a major spill happens. This is why they allow STS transfer’s of VLCC’s off the coast even less then 60 miles off the coast for cheap gains of private sector companies. Harbor Master’s and authorities are still a sleep knowing whats going on.

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