The Shetland Oil Disaster: Sister ship had engine problems

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The Independent Online
THE Braer's sister ship, the Celtic, suffered engine problems in Quebec the day before the Braer came to grief off the Shetland Islands, the Canadian coastguard confirmed yesterday.

The problems were detected by river pilots as the Liberian-registered Celtic was being guided up the St Lawrence into a refinery near Quebec City run by Ultramar, the oil company which owned the cargo carried by the Braer.

The tanker, which is owned by the same Connecticut-based group as the Braer, was seized by Ultramar on Wednesday pending negotiations about payment for the lost cargo. It was released from its anchorage at Point au Pic, about 60 miles east of Quebec City, yesterday after payment of a bond by the Braer's Oslo-based insurers, Skuld.

Michel Lessard, a coastguard spokesman in Quebec City, said yesterday that the Celtic - which, like the Braer, is 17 years old - experienced loss of power because ice from the river blocked water intakes in the hull, affecting the engine's cooling system.

However, the engine was not disabled and the tanker was able to reach the Ultramar terminal. Such blockages were not uncommon on the St Lawrence in winter, Mr Lessard added.

Alan Martel, duty controller at the search and rescue sub-centre in Quebec City, said that the Celtic had since been fully inspected by the coastguard's ship safety board and declared seaworthy.

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