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Tanker Fire Off Portugal Sparks Pollution Concern

Tanker Fire Off Portugal Sparks Pollution Concern
Mike Schuler March 21, 2023

A tanker carrying diesel and jet fuel is on fire in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Portugal, prompting concern of a potential pollution incident.

The Portuguese Navy is reporting that the Lisbon Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) received a distress call at approximately 3:30 PM Tuesday concerning a fire aboard the Malta-flagged tanker Greta K. The vessel was situated about 1.5 miles off the coast, roughly 3 kilometers from Ingleses Beach in Foz do Douro, Portugal, the Navy said.

The tanker has a crew of 19 Filipino nationals, some of whom have already evacuated. The Navy reports that a pilot from APDL is already on be onboard the vessel and was guiding it towards Leixões—one of Portugal’s major seaports—when the fire started.

The Ports Administration of Douro, Leixões, and Viana do Castelo (APDL) have dispatched three tugboats to assist in battling the blaze. In addition, the Captain of the Port of Douro and Leixões sent two boats from the Leixões Life Saving Station to aid in the firefighting efforts.

At the time of reporting, the fire remained active.

Twelve crew members have been safely evacuated by boats from the Life Saving Stations of Leixões, Póvoa de Varzim, and the Local Command of the Maritime Police of Leixões. The remaining seven crew members are still on board.

The tanker is being towed to an offshore area for safety precautions.

Its cargo consists of diesel and jet fuel, the Navy said.

In anticipation of potential pollution, Portugal’s Autoridade Marítima Nacional is preparing supplies and assembling pollution response teams. The Hydrographic Institute of the Navy is also closely monitoring the situation and ready to calculate drift patterns in case of a pollution event, the Navy said.

The Greta K is an oil/chemical tanker that was built in 2016 and is sailing under the Maltese flag. The vessel has a cargo capacity by weight of 24,768 DWT.

AIS data from showed the Greta K’s status as “Not Under Command” as it moves away from the coast at a speed of 2.5 knots. It shows the ship was underway from Sines, Portugal to Leixões.

Equassis data shows the Greta K is managed by Italy-based K-SHIPS SRL and owned San Giorgio del Porto SPA.