Belfast Telegraph

Stricken oil tanker lashed by gales has tot aged 2 on board

By Amanda Poole

A two-year-old girl is aboard the damaged oil tanker anchored off Belfast Lough for the last three weeks, it has emerged.

However, she and her parents and the rest of the crew are safe and well and in no danger, according to marine authorities.

They may soon be ashore as the ship could be heading into harbour for repairs in the next few days thanks to improved weather conditions.

The merchant vessel Genmar Companion has been anchored at the entrance of Belfast Lough since December 16 when a crack was discovered on its upper deck.

Fendercare Marine was due to start the cargo transfer of 54,304 tonnes of oil to the BW Seine on January 1, but the operation has been postponed on a number of occasions because the wind speed has been too high.

Last night a meeting was held to discuss the details of the ship-to-ship transfer operation, as the violent gales of recent days have now begun to ease.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency told the Belfast Telegraph that concerns for the toddler’s welfare on board the vessel are unfounded.

He explained the two-year-old girl is the daughter of one of the ship’s crew and that she is comfortable, as are all the crew.

A temporary exclusion zone of one nautical mile has been in place since New Year’s Eve when the cargo transfer was first due to start and will remain in place for the duration of the operation.

The Coastguard spokesman added: “The winds are abating over the next 12 hours and the weather forecasts will be looked at to determine if a window of opportunity presents itself for the operation to go ahead safely.”

A spokesman for General Marine Management based in New York told the Belfast Telegraph that “transfer operations will commence when weather conditions permit and all parties participating in the transfer agree that such operations may be undertaken in a safe fashion”.

Northern Scotland is the only area of the UK that will be subject to a Met Office severe weather warning today. Northern Ireland is due to experience a mainly cloudy day.

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