Tricolor Cargo Ship Accident: Look at the Tragic Collisions in the English Channel

Tricolor Cargo Ship Accident: Aside from the irreversible disaster of the Titanic, how many maritime mishaps have ever terrified you to tears? What is the number of similar incidents that you know about? The globe has seen far too many of these terrible coincidences that were the unluckiest to have had catastrophic effects on the planet.

MV Tricolor, a 50,000-ton, £25.1 million ($39.9 million) Norwegian-flagged vehicle carrier, is well-known for being involved in three English Channel collisions in a two-week period, which caused extensive damage, marine pollution, and arguably the largest loss in the auto exporting industry.

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About 20 miles north of the French coast in the English Channel, on December 14, 2002, in the early morning hours of a foggy morning, the MV Tricolor, carrying about 3,000 BMWs, Volvos, and Saabs, collided with the 1982 container ship Kariba, flying the flag of the Bahamas. Despite being severely damaged above the water, the Kariba managed to continue her journey, but the MV Tricolor was trapped on her side in a deep channel measuring 30 meters (98 feet).

Tricolor Cargo Ship

The crew of twenty-four was rescued unharmed by the Kariba and another tugboat called Boxer, therefore, it appears that no lives were lost. However, 77 RoRo freight units and about 2,862 cars—mostly tractor and crane parts—could not be saved.

Wilhelmsen Lines, the owner of the carrier, expressed regret through its spokesman, Per Ronnevig, saying, “I think we must consider it lost.” She likely overturned when she fell. It implies that every car is most likely laying down there in bits.

The French police warships Glaive and HMS Anglesey, together with a few others, had floated off and patrolled the busiest shipping lane in order to warn other ships of the MV Tricolor’s existence.

Tricolor Cargo Ship Accident

Tricolor Cargo Ship Accident

Despite this, on January 1, 2003, a cargo ship named Nicola and another ship named Vicky carrying 70,000 tons of extremely flammable gas oil slammed into the wreck of the MV Tricolor.

The ships had ignored many warnings from the French navy. The third tragic mishap occurred on January 22 when a salvage tug removed a safety valve from the Tricolor, causing a significant oil flow.

These gave the rescue effort top priority, and the Dutch business SMIT Salvage Co. took control. It was announced on February 25, 2003, that the oil that could be safely accessed and pumped had been recovered from the wreck of the M/V Tricolor. For three months, the salvage team divided the MV Tricolor wreck into nine sections, each weighing three thousand tons, “like cheese.”

Parts of its hull were transported to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, where all of the opulent vehicles were removed and demolished. London Offshore Consultants managing director Peter Holloway stated: “Basically we couldn’t consider it a ship anymore, just a pile of scrap.” After more than a year, the surgery was deemed finished on October 27, 2004.

In addition to causing significant economic losses and incurring an approximate operational cost of £25 million, the large-scale oil leak significantly contaminated the marine environment and marine life, perhaps harming seabirds. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the oil from the MV Tricolor is thought to have killed or injured over a thousand birds.

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