A Panamanian-flagged tugboat sank in the Strait of Gibraltar yesterday after being towed from the port of Ceuta after it caught fire, according to reports in the Spanish press today.
The vessel Ocean Lady (132 foot) had apparently been docked in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta after being abandoned there some months ago. Due to this Ceuta?EUR(TM)s Port Master stated to Spanish media that ecological damage from the sinking would be negligible as the vessel had only been holding a small amount of diesel fuel.
The fire started below decks in an area filled with trash, and illegal immigrants may may have been using the ship for shelter.
The ship had been impounded by a court in Ceuta, and the fire broke out while it was docked at Puntilla pier.
The Ocean Lady sailed into Ceuta on Feb. 28 and had been docked at Puntilla under the impoundment order.
The tugboat, which was in poor condition and had been abandoned by its owner, was 40 meters (131 feet) long and displaced 29 gross tons.
The incident comes at the same time as the New Flame has been blamed by Spanish ecologists for around a 140 tonne oil slick washed up on Spanish shores even after both salvage experts and the Gibraltar Government assured in mid-December that there was no risk of material pollution, since the vessel had been defuelled and only small remnant amounts of fuel remained in the engines themselves.
Oil spills reaching Spanish beaches have been consistently attributed to stricken vessel the New Flame since August.