By Bejay Browne
A SHIP which ran aground in Paphos in stormy seas two and a half years ago is still stranded on the rocks, with no real prospect of being moved in the near future, according to officials.
The Sierra Leone-flagged, EDRO III, has remained stranded on the rocks in the sea caves area of Paphos since December 8, 2011.
Nicos Attas, a marine surveyor from the department of merchant shipping told the Sunday Mail that progress on removing the vessel had stalled and it seemed unlikely that the ship would be removed in the coming months. He added that it would most likely be impossible to dismantle the ship at the site, as the area is part of the Natura 2000 project, which aims to protect and preserve natural habitat and environments.
“The ministry of agriculture’s environmental department has said that it’s not legally possible to dismantle the ship where it is, as the area is protected and very sensitive,” he said. “It will also be difficult to move it as the condition has deteriorated.”
The marine surveyor noted that the first stage of the operation was completed successfully over a year ago and saw all oily waste such as, lubricants, fuel and solid waste being removed and discharge waste and pollutants cleared.
“The second phase is removing the ship and although the vessel’s owner has a legal representative in Cyprus, he seems to have complicated insurance cover,” he said. “There is a clause which means the owner has to pay a certain amount and show relevant documents in order to be compensated by the Russian insurers.”
The ship owner has allegedly told his insurer that he doesn’t have the funds to pay up.
Officials say that such a situation would not arise now as recent EU legislation requires that vessel owners possess a certain degree of compulsory insurance.
The Albanian-owned cargo vessel, built in the late 1960s, was leaving Limassol port in early December 2011, bound for Rhodes. Its engine encountered technical problems during bad weather, and the ship was forced onto rocks off the coast of Paphos, where it has remained stranded ever since.
“I hope that this ship won’t stay on the rocks indefinitely; it’s just a matter of money. It will cost roughly around half a million euros to move and transport the vessel to a scrap yard,” Attas said. “There is an international market value for the weight of scrap steel; unfortunately the costs appear to exceed the scrap value.”
The EDRO III weighs about 2,345 tonnes and is over 80 metres in length. According to Attas, the ship is now empty and lying on the rocks at an 11-12 degree angle. Embarking the ship is no longer permitted as it’s dangerous and there are warning signs in place, he said.
“I hope that there will be interest soon. Someone needs to take the initiative for movement in this case.”