Saturday, 8 November 2008

Napoli Inquiry

I am one of the two Devon County Council representatives on the Napoli Inquiry chaired by Professor Ian Mercer.

On 18 January 2007, the MSC Napoli was on passage in the English Channel, loaded with 2,318 containers and bound for South Africa when she suffered a catastrophic hull failure and got into severe difficulties. Working with the French authorities, the SOSREP (Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention) decided that the ship was in danger of breaking up and polluting the English Channel and should be towed to Portland Harbour.
As the Napoli was towed towards Portland, the condition of the ship deteriorated rapidly, it was decided to beach the Napoli at Branscombe in order to avert a potential environmental catastrophe. There then followed a period of looting on the beach, as containers from the Napoli washed up on the shore; described by one villager as like something out of 'Mad Max'.

We have just completed a week of taking witness statements, reading hefty tombs of technical information and evidence. It will be a few weeks before we submit our final report. It’s been a really interesting experience; there are some important lesions to be learnt in dealing with emergencies.

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