WIT Press

Monitoring Activities Following The Grounding Of The MSC Napoli In Lyme Bay, UK, In 2007


Free (open access)





Page Range

25 - 33




498 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


R. J. Law & C. Kelly


On 18th January 2007, severe storms and huge waves battered the MSC Napoli outbound from Europe along the English Channel, seriously damaging its hull. Eighty km south of the UK coast, severe cracks developed in both sides of the hull and flooded the engine room. The crew abandoned ship and were airlifted to safety. The ship was taken in tow by two emergency towing vessels maintained on station by the UK and French governments and set off for Portland Harbour. Unfortunately the condition of the ship worsened and, amid fears that she may sink offshore, was beached 1 km off Branscombe Beach in Devon, within Lyme Bay. This area is part of Britain’s first World Heritage Site (the Jurassic Coast), and of high nature conservation importance. The vessel was carrying over 40,000 tonnes of cargo in 2,318 containers. Of these, 159 contained 1,684 tonnes of dangerous goods as classified by the IMO criteria. These included a wide variety of industrial and agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, fumigants, solvents and personal care products. As a component of the UK response, a monitoring programme was established, involving bodies such as Cefas, the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and the University of Plymouth, with overall co-ordination by Cefas. As well as one-off surveys, regular monitoring was undertaken of waters around the coast of the bay and of crabs and scallops collected during routine fishing activities in Lyme Bay, along with farmed mussels from Portland Harbour. Chemical analysis and toxicity testing of waters from the ship’s holds and engine room were also conducted routinely to monitor the risk from water being released to the bay. The overall impact of the incident was less than first feared. Keywords: oil and chemical spill, MSC Napoli, Lyme Bay, monitoring, PAH.


oil and chemical spill, MSC Napoli, Lyme Bay, monitoring, PAH.