The Tropical vessel
Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
Several Government agencies are working together to investigate the grounding of a Tropical Shipping vessel at the popular dive site, Wreck of the Rhone off Salt Island sometime last night, August 28.
Chris Haycraft, Managing Director of Island Shipping and Trading, the agent of Tropical Shipping in the BVI told BVI Platinum News this morning that the vessel 'Tropical Sun' grounded at about 10:00 pm.
He said that the vessel was leaving Tortola at "slow speed" on its way to St. Maarten when the accident occurred.
According to Haycraft, only the bow of the vessel is under water and there are no immediate risks to the vessel as it is not taking on water.
Haycraft said that the company is looking at ways to have the vessel removed, but that can only be done after local authorities have completed their investigations. He said this is the first time that the company has experienced such an accident.
One of the agencies involved is the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), which received a report about the accident at about 7:00 am this morning, August 29.
Director of DDM, Sharleen Dabreo told BVI Platinum News that other agencies involved are the Police Maine Department, the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, National Parks Trust and the Conservation and Fisheries Department.
Dabreo said that the popular dive site which has been designated a national park, will have to be closed as the investigations progress. She said that the immediate plan is to stabilize the vessel and after the investigations are completed, develop a plan to remove it safely from the site.
The DDM Director also expressed concern about having the vessel remain at the location for a prolong period with the hurricane season in progress.
The Director of the BVI National Parks Trust, Mr. Joseph Smith Abbott has advised the public that the Wreck of the Rhone National Park will be closed until further notice.
"The closure is taken to ensure the safety of all park users. In the meantime mariners are asked to exercise caution whilst sailing in the area," a GIS statement noted.