BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 16:14 GMT
Timber hazard after ship wrecked
The ship spent more than 24 hours listing before it sank

Measures are being put in place to protect shipping in the area where a cargo ship sank off the Dorset coast.

The Greek-registered Ice Prince went down about 26 miles (42km) off Portland Bill after being damaged in a storm.

She shed more than 2,000 tonnes of her 5,260-tonne timber cargo. An exclusion zone is in place around the ship.

Representatives of the government, police, councils, the ship's owners and salvors met to discuss how to minimise the impact of the cargo or leaked oil.

Recovery plans

The 6,395-ton Ice Prince sent out its initial emergency call at about 1900 GMT on Sunday.

Rescuers battled gale force winds and rough seas with 16ft (5m) swells to remove the vessel's crew.

Twelve were airlifted to Portland, Dorset, and eight others taken by lifeboat to Brixham, Devon.

It is understood the members of the Ice Prince's crew were all foreign nationals and were wearing lifejackets and immersion suits when rescued.

The 328ft (100m) ship finally sank at about 0045 GMT on Tuesday in 9ft (2.7m) waves and strong winds.

Wood from Ice Prince

The vessel was carrying 5,258 tonnes of sawn Swedish red and white timber. About 2,000 tonnes of the cargo was being carried on the deck and a quantity of wood - about 3,000 tonnes - is still believed to be in the hold.

It was also carrying an estimated 400 tonnes of fuel oil and other lubricating oils in its engine spaces.

At a meeting on Wednesday convened by the Secretary's of State Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP), Hugh Shaw, various options were discussed on minimising the impact of the loss of cargo or oil.

Salvors are working on a plan to decide how best to recover oil and pollutants in the vessel's tanks.

Coastguards said there had been reports of a light sheen of oil at the wreck site, but that it was being broken up by sea movement.

Loose planks

A guard vessel, the Klyne tug Anglian Earl, is remaining on the scene until a survey of the wreck site is completed. This is to ensure that the wreck itself does not pose any hazard to navigation.

Coastguards said the risk of oil pollution was low, but they were concerned a "wood slick" of the cargo could be a hazard to shipping.

The 10m (33ft) lengths of wood were put on board in bundles, but sea conditions broke many of them apart.

Kelly Reynolds, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), said: "We believe it is a danger to navigation because there are bundles of wood that are breaking down into loose planks."

The MCA said it anticipated the would reach land between the Dorset/Hampshire border and East Sussex.

Warnings have been sent to all shipping in the area to avoid floating timber, and police forces along the south coast are working closely with the MCA and the Receiver of Wreck.

On Thursday, underwater surveillance equipment will survey the wreck to see how much of a threat it poses.

Timber ship sinks in rough seas
15 Jan 08 |  England

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific