Napoli: best solution

PUBLISHED: 01:01 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:37 15 June 2010

I was involved in the Napoli incident through the Maritime Volunteer Service, whose volunteers helped HM Coastguard at the time of the grounding and provided a guardboat later in the year. Whilst it is clear that the effect upon local communities was very

I was involved in the Napoli incident through the Maritime Volunteer Service, whose volunteers helped HM Coastguard at the time of the grounding and provided a guardboat later in the year.Whilst it is clear that the effect upon local communities was very significant, the extremely severe weather at the time meant that the deliberate grounding of the helpless vessel was the least worst solution. She was too deep for Falmouth or Plymouth, the strength of wind and sea meant that towing her round Portland Bill was fraught with risk and she was likely to flounder. Had she sunk, all beaches around Lyme Bay would have suffered from oil pollution, most of the 5000 containers would have broken free and come ashore or - worse - floated unseen among the busiest shipping lanes in Europe, with unimaginable risks to other ships and leisure craft.The very real problems experienced by one or two communities must be placed in the context of what scale of disaster could have occurred had SOSREP not ordered her to be grounded so that salvage work could continue - as it did most successfully - once the weather abated. Haydn Chappell Ackender RoadAlton

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