Fresh bid to refloat stricken cargo ship

A FRESH effort will be made this morning to refloat a gigantic cargo ship which ran aground in a storm off the Connemara coast yesterday morning.

Rescue services were last night keeping a close watch on the Pantanal — which is as long as a football pitch — to ensure there is not an environmental disaster off the west coast.

Booms were put in place around the 120-metre vessel to contain any pollution risk.

Marine Minister Simon Coveney was due to visit the scene off Rossaveal in south Connemara last night to inspect the situation.

The German owners of the 7,000-tonne cargo ship have organised for a tugboat to try to pull it off the rocks this morning.

The Pantanal with 16 crew on board broke its anchor mooring in shallow waters just off the Co Galway at about 6am.

The vessel, which is registered in Antigua, had sailed to Ireland to pick up two passenger ferries at Rossaveal to carry them to Mauritius.

The two ferries had been recently built for Bad Arann Teo.

The shipping firm Harren and Partner of Bremen, which operates the Pantanal, said they had sent representatives to the stricken vessel and attempt to pull it clear at high tide this morning.

“The vessel and her crew are safe. There is no risk of any pollution and the vessel’s underwriters, together with our emergency response team, are working on re-floating plans, together with tug assistance.

“There is no visible nor obvious damage from the vessel and we are optimistic that this unfortunate grounding can be resolved soonest,” it said.

The two passenger ferries had not been loaded on the Pantanal when it got into difficulty yesterday, when it ran up on rock and a sandbank close to the entrance to Rossaveal fishery harbour.

The Irish Coast Guard’s Costelloe Bay Unit was alerted, along with the gardaí at Carraroe, and rescue agencies including the RNLI Aran island lifeboat were put on standby.

Picture: The huge cargo ship Pantanal on rocks off Rosseveal, Co Galway. Pictures: Andrew Downes

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