Russian cargo ship runs aground off Cornwall on British coast

  • Experts suspect the anchor may have been dislodged due to strong winds, meaning it would be difficult to control the vessel
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 5:35pm

A Russian cargo ship has run aground off a Cornish beach.

The 16,000-tonne Kuzma Minin was photographed before dawn grounded off Gyllyngvase beach near Falmouth.

Boats from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Falmouth lifeboat were at the scene. The UK coastguard plans to try to refloat the 180-metre carrier, which was listing at low tide.

In a statement, the coastguard said the Kuzma Minin grounded at 5.40am after dragging its anchor during strong winds.

“She currently has a list of 5 degrees but there is no report of any pollution,” its said. “Tugs are on their way to the vessel and a lifeboat is standing by at the scene. The Falmouth coastguard rescue team have cordoned off an area around the ship. Tugs will be attached to the vessel and as the tide rises, the plan is to refloat the vessel.”

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The ship, which has 18 Russian crew on board but no cargo, was reported to have set off from the port of Terneuzen in the Netherlands.

Former Falmouth senior pilot captain David Barnicoat said the accident occurred during “horrendous” winds.

Speaking to BBC Radio Cornwall he said: “It’s a classic grounding in bad weather and strong winds. The wind overnight was pretty horrendous. Where I live I hadn’t heard wind like it for quite a few years.”

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He added: “It sounds as if she dragged anchor and the engines may not have been ready or she may have had some other problem. Once that anchor breaks from the seabed and you start dragging then you have no control whatsoever.”

He said he feared local tugs would not have the power to pull the boat to safety.

“Our tugs won’t be powerful enough to get her off unless the wind dies right away. You need something of about 100 tonnes and we just don’t have that available.”

He also warned of the risk of pollution if the ship hit nearby rocks.

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“Just to the southwest of the beach it is all rocky shoreline so there is potential for pollution,” Barnicoat said.

Ian Cocklin, a former sailor in the Royal Navy, tweeted pictures of the boat saying: “It’s huge and it’s close.”

The website Marine Traffic shows the position of the grounded vessel. High tide occurs in Falmouth just after 1pm.