Sète (South France)-Colombo (Sri Lanka): the mad escape of the Odeep One

30 Jul 2021

July 30, 2021. 12 h

The dilapidated vessel targeted by the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control escaped from Sète on Friday, July 23, with the complicity of the port. The Odeep One caused in her flight 2 oil pollutions in the port basins and at the exit of the channel. The Ship Safety Centre (SSC) based in Sète was not informed of this departure. Yesterday, July 29, the Odeep One has refuelled in Maltese territorial waters and is now heading for Colombo (Sri Lanka). Close monitoring of the Odeep One‘s trajectory between Sète and Malta by Robin des Bois and other specialists has shown that she is facing mechanical problems. Her average speed is 5 to 6 knots with phases at one or 2 knots.

The Odeep One, ex-Petersburg, ex-Mukran, built in 1986, was a train-ferry with a capacity of 150 passengers, 200 road vehicles and 49 wagons. In April 2018, she underwent repairs at a shipyard in Tallinn (Estonia), and 2 months later she was seized by creditors. She was then bought by the French shipowner OFW (Ocean Fresh Water) who claimed to get into pumping seawater at great depth and manufacturing drinking water after treatment in an onboard desalination and bottling unit. The dreamer-owner, who has always been viewed with favour by Sète Port and the local press, encountered technical and financial difficulties. However, never short of humanitarian and commercial ideas, he received in the spring of 2020 the authorisation of the French administration to manufacture and bottle hydro-alcoholic gels on board. This authorisation was withdrawn a few weeks or months later due to non-compliance. Doubts remain about the presence of batches of hydro-alcoholic gels on board the Odeep One.

Late yesterday afternoon, following exchanges between Robin des Bois and the Sète SSC, we received the following message:

“I inform you that a message regarding the ODEEP ONE’s port of call was sent this afternoon to the control authorities by the Malta Port State via the European application THETIS.
This message is also attached to the ship’s data and will be available to the authorities of any ports of call in the Paris Memorandum area.”

Robin des Bois considers that the Odeep One is a fugitive and that she exposes her crew to risks of shipwreck or serious damage such as an explosion in the engine room. After leaving the yard in Gdansk, where she underwent further work after being taken over by OFW, she was inspected under the Paris Memorandum in October 2019. Twenty deficiencies were found by the Polish inspectors at Nowy Port. Some of them were related to non-compliance with the MARPOL Convention for the Preventing of Pollution from Ships. The Odeep One was then detained for 16 days and it was in this precarious condition that she arrived in Sète in November 2019. Sète, enthusiastic about OFW’s hazy projects, gave her the warmest welcome and a prominent place at the Masselin mole. However, as time went by, the Odeep One became a deadweight and a financial burden who did not pay her docking fees, and the port of Sète, already cluttered with the Rio Tagus, had been looking for several months for a way to get rid of her, knowing that the departure of the Odeep One would be subject to a mandatory inspection by the Port State, i.e. France.

Just today, Robin des Bois filed a complaint against a person unknown for endangering the lives of others, namely the crew members of the Odeep One, and for pollutions by toxic substances with the judicial court of Marseille.

The course of the Odeep One as announced by her AIS (Automatic Identification System) forecasts a return to the Straits of Gibraltar and the bypassing of Africa by the Cape of Good Hope. This option could eventually lead to the boarding of the Odeep One by European naval forces and her diversion to a European port. The other option would be to cross the Suez Canal, but this seems unlikely for financial and safety reasons. In actual fact and according the last AIS tracking, the Odeep One is heading east and seems to be planned for Suez Canal crossing. Robin des Bois is sending a message to Suez Canal authorities asking them to bar the Odeep One from entering the Canal.

Robin des Bois follows the chaotic course of the Odeep One hour by hour. The Colombo destination, even if it can be seen as a step towards scrapping in Pakistan, Bangladesh or India, pays a fitting tribute to the cynicism of the new owners of the Odeep One based in Singapore. The entire west coast of Sri Lanka and especially the waters around Colombo are under the effects of the fire and sinking of the X-Press Pearl in late May-early June 2021.

See also :
Press release Un navire poubelle se fait la malle à Sète (A sub standard vessel is clearing off in Sète, only in French), July 26, 2021




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