Cargo ship snaps in half on Anglet Breakwall
Everyone knew it was coming. Surfers had been tracking the storm for over two weeks, and only a day earlier, English plumber Andrew Cotton had ridden one of the biggest waves of all-time at Nazare, Portugal. It was the biggest storm in one of European history’s most violent winters. But, it wasn’t enough to stop […]
Everyone knew it was coming. Surfers had been tracking the storm for over two weeks, and only a day earlier, English plumber Andrew Cotton had ridden one of the biggest waves of all-time at Nazare, Portugal. It was the biggest storm in one of European history’s most violent winters. But, it wasn’t enough to stop a consortium of French and Spanish shipping imbeciles trying to get the 100 meter long cargo ship, Luno, through the swell-battered harbour at Bayonne in southern France. “Fuck yeah, I was surprised,” says local surfer and King Millennium surf-charter marketing manager, Jaimie Izquierdo. “Today was the biggest swell in the whole winter and this has been the biggest winter I’ve seen in the 23 years I’ve been surfing. I’m pretty sure the company owner of the boat knew what was gonna happen or knew what the conditions were going to be, but even so they took the risk and tried to get to the harbour.”
The cargo ship is now sitting neatly in two neat pieces either side of the Anglet breakwall in southern France, which last year was used as one of the sites for the Quiksilver Pro, France.
The 127 cubic litres of fuel the Luno contained can now be seen on the surface of the ocean and can be smelt from land. Local surfers and environmentalists are in shock.
“For me it’s kind of strange to put a huge boat at risk, knowing all the security systems they have in the boat and all these things,” says Jaime. “I can’t understand why these things keep happening these days.”
The Luno had been on its way to pick up a shipment of fertiliser from Bayonne when it ran into 110 km winds and 50 feet (plus) of swell. It suffered engine problems, followed by a complete electrical breakdown, leaving it at the mercy of the ocean. It was then snapped in two around the break wall. A hairy rescue effort unfolded shortly after as a helicopter attempted to winch the 12 crew members to safety. Meanwhile, questions as to why the boat was allowed to attempt entry into the harbour were already being asked.
“We know that the entry conditions for the port of Bayonne are very difficult,” said local Mayor, Jean Espilondo. It’s the second major shipping disaster to threaten surfing in the region since the early 2000s. The other, in 2002, involved the Greek-operated, Liberian-owned (and Bahamas-registered) oil tanker, The Prestige, running aground in a storm near the big wave spot of Galicia on the Basque coast. It tipped over 20 million US gallons of oil into the sea in what amounted to Europe’s worst shipping disaster. The damage to the coastline devastated the fishing industry and kept surfers from southern Portugal all the way to France out of the water for two months. The Luno, which is used to ship fertiliser, was yet to pick up its cargo and is unlikely to result in any long lasting damage to the coastline. But it’s too early to tell.
“Every time we see something like this we cross our fingers and hope for the best,” says Jaime. – Jed Smith
Follow Jed on Twitter, here.
And, uh, here’s John John Florence shooting oops over Jordy Smith a while back at Anglet. There’s half a ship not far from right here now. Photo: Ryan Miller
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