Icelandic container ship stranded off Norway, leaks oil

[Updated] Oil has now stopped leaking from Godafoss, a container ship owned by Iceland’s Eimskip, which stranded off the Norwegian coast last night. The ship ran aground off a protected coastal area, raising fears of significant ecosystem damage.

Godafoss was en route from Fredrikstad in Norway to Helsingborg in Sweden when it hit the bottom before 20.00 last night, local time, several nautical miles outside Fredrikstad. Olafur Hand, Eimskip’s information officer, says that the area is difficult to navigate and has many shallow areas, including reefs. It is not yet clear precisely what happened, but the ship is stuck fast and leaking oil on both sides.

The ship’s 14 crew members are unhurt and the captain decided not to evacuate. Despite the lack of direct danger to the crew, Norwegian radio reported this morning that the oil slick had already spread over 4.6 kilometres.

The ship has been “fenced” in with floating barriers in an effort to contain the oil spill. The weather is good and Norwegian authorities are confident they will be able to contain the situation and avoid significant damage to the world’s only marine national park.

Rescue workers and representatives of Eimskip’s insurance company have been brought aboard the vessel and the Norwegian coastguard is co-ordinating. The Swedish coastguard is also on alert.

The first priority is to pump all the oil out of the ship before any attempt is made to re-float her.

Update 12.00: Oil has now reached the shore. The Swedish coastguard has joined in. Operations to pump remaining oil out of the ship continue. See photo here.

Update 14.30: Oil appears to have stopped leaking from the ship. The Norwegian coastguard has been praised for its fast and effective work; although oil has now reached land in two places. Picture here.

Update 16.00: Divers are inspecting the hull of the boat. The oil has stopped spilling and remaining oil within the ship will be pumped soon. Preparations are underway to work out how and when the 430 shipping containers will be removed.

Update 17.00: The ship’s captain is being questioned by police; which is why he has declined to say much to the media. He has, however, publicly confirmed that he was on the bridge when Godafoss grounded.

(Photo: Eimskip)

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