To-be scrapped vessel stolen in Liberia

21 May 2007

Object: European Union and ship demolition

The Tahoma Reefer, a vessel measuring 102 m in length, was stolen the 11th of May by an armed band and towed out to sea by 2 fishing boats. Its fate remains unknown to this day.

The Tahoma Reefer had been anchored in Liberia since the beginning of the year in a waiting zone near the access channel to the Monrovia port. Upon its arrival to the port, the vessel had suffered damage from a fire on the 11th of august 2006. This fire was put out by an ocean tugboat belonging to the UN fleet that was on site to help put back into effect port infrastructure systems. The Tahoma Reefer was thus towed to dock. At the start of the year, the port authorities ordered the Estonian proprietor ELS Trans (4Adala tn, Tallin Estonia)* to free the docks, as the Tahoma Reefer posed risks for port security.

The vessel was thus taken to be anchored further out and was resold in 2 months to a Bulgarian proprietor who had the intention of towing the vessel to Italy for reparation, and then reselling it.

The Tahoma Reefer was actually sold in this condition for 283 dollars per ton for demolition in India in September 2006. In accordance with the information published in Robin des Bois’ bulletin #6, “,”** the data bank Equasis which gathers information on commerce vessels in the frame of international maritime conventions says that the Tahoma Reefer no longer has the status of ship (status of ship = dead), thus after September 2006, has not held a certificate of navigation. Moreover, the Tahoma Reefer has been excluded from the International Ship Register since the 5th of May 2007.

This pirating is a new demonstration of the lack of traceability of vessels at the end of their lives. Robin des Bois is astonished that a vessel without a certificate of navigation and without insurance, sold in September 2000 for demolition in India by an Estonian ship-owner, could stay anchored off Monrovia for several months, and be sold by a Bulgarian proprietor only to be stolen at the last minute (with 200 tons of fuel aboard according to information from Monrovia).

The Tahoma Reefer affair sheds light on the problem of abandoned vessels and the reselling of vessels with papers in Africa and Asia. The European Union has a good deal of responsibility: it accepts that European ship-owners register ships to be demolished under the flag of convenience (the Tahoma Reefer was under the St. Vincent and Grenadines flag); when these vessels are regularly detained in their ports***, the EU lets them leave towards non controlled horizons in stead of assuming control of on site demolition.

*Estonia is already implicated in the Probo Koala scandal and toxic wastes discarded in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) in the summer of 2006.

** #6 (p. 17 of the pdf document).

*** The Tahoma Reefer was detained in Anvers for 14 days in November 2004. It had 48 deficiencies, many of which concerned fire- safety.


Imprimer cet article Imprimer cet article