The “Turia” minesweeper, beached since Tuesday morning in front of the beach of Banco del Tabal in La Manga del Mar Menor, has damage to it’s superstructure that “has caused the flooding of several compartments,” the Spanish Navy said in a statement today.
“A number of the crew and a team of divers remained on board the vessel throughout the night. The Navy has since moved equipment to the immediate vicinity of the incident from the Naval Diving Centre, as well as the Rescue Ship «Neptune» to study the existing options for the recovery of the ship.
The Chief of Staff of the Maritime Action Force, Juan Bautista Pérez, blamed the storm on Tuesday as the reason for the Turia running aground but added that the ship is “stable.”
In an appearance before the media on Tuesday afternoon, he said that the storms and the complicated state of the sea was hindering the task of assessing the state of the fiberglass hull, which was damaged during the collision and that the split has been “increasing” with the passing of the hours.
According to the news agency Efe, the ship ran aground at 9:50 am when the crew was trying to recover the underwater robot Pluto, which had taken high-resolution images of what could be an important part of the plane in which the commander of the General Air Academy Francisco Marín had died following the previous day’s air crash.
At that time, the ship ran aground on a rocky bed, so, although not essential, the crew evacuation protocol was activated.
A tanker has now arrived in the area that will extract the 30 tons of fuel from the ship.
After saying that the “most critical situation” has been overcome following the stabilisation carried out by the Mastelero Maritime Rescue ship, he explained that two teams of divers and personnel from the Neptune Navy rescue ship had been working in order to assess the damage and have verified that there are several flooded compartments.
He said that the important thing is “not to take more unnecessary risks” and to ensure that the “damages does not deteriorate”, so that once the assessment is finished, they experts will decide on the most appropriate method of rescue.
Among them, he mentioned placing outer belts that provide the ship with additional buoyancy, stabilising the hull and pumping out the water, after which the ship would be towed to the port of Cartagena for repair.
Despite over 200 people currently being employed on the project he admitted that the incident has “paralyzed” the search operation for the wreckage of the plane, but as the weather improves, both operations can be advanced: the rescue of the minesweeper and the recovery of the C-101 , although he gave no indication of the time frame.