14 seafarers have been evacuated from a freighter off the coast of Portugal, leaving it adrift and awaiting a tow.
The 5,400 dwt freighter Southwester called for assistance at about 0030 hours on Thursday, reporting sudden flooding in the engine room. At the time, she was located about 40 nautical miles off Figueira da Foz, a small port north of Lisbon. Her crewmembers were rescued later that morning by another merchant vessel, the EM Hydra, and they were brought safely to the port of Leixões (Porto) at about 1030 hours.
According to local Porto Canal, the seafarers have been tested for COVID-19 and have provided statements to Portugal's maritime police.
The Southwester is still afloat and is no danger of sinking, Portuguese Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Nádia Rijo told media on Thursday. The vessel is drifting gradually away from the coast, and authorities are working with the shipowner on a towing plan involving two tugs.
The Southwester is laden with a cargo of steel, and her condition is not believed to pose any environmental risk, the Portuguese Navy said.
The 1998-built Southwester is flagged in Vanuatu and owned in Turkey. During her last port state control inspection – conducted in late September at the Port of Piraeus – officials found nine deficiencies related to ISM code compliance, cleanliness of the engine room, crew provisions and fire safety, among other concerns. Over the past five years, she has accumulated a total of 134 deficiencies and two detentions.