Order to auction troubled vessel stayedMay 24, 2012, 10:00 pm
The Court of Appeal on Tuesday issued a stay order, valid till June 05, 2012, preventing the auctioning, on an order of the Commercial High Court, of the MV Thermopylae Sierra.
The Commercial High Court, on April 25, 2012, ordered the auctioning of the vessel, which was found drifting off the Coast of Panadura, three years ago and had been anchored there since, pending the outcome of a Court case.
When Defendant-Petitioners in this case MV Thermopylae Sierra, now anchored off Panadura and Scarlet Shipping Company Ltd. of Limassol, Cyprus sought interim relief by way of an order staying the operation of the Western Province High Court order, exercising admiralty jurisdiction in respect of the sale of the vessel, an Appeals Court Bench comprising Justices Sarath de Abrew and H. N. J. Perrera said that they were satisfied that "there is justification for the issue of a stay order………. Accordingly a stay order is hereby issued valid till 05/06/2012"
The Court of Appeal, while staying the order to auction, till June 05, directed the petitioner to take suitable steps, with the Marine Environment Protection Authority, to avoid environmental pollution and the safe towing of the ship to the Trincomalee harbour.
On the direction of Environment Minister, the Chairman of the MEPA is making arrangements to improve the seaworthiness of the vessel and to tow it to Trincomalee to seek shelter from the adverse affects of the impending southwest monsoon.
The vessel has been anchored for the past three years off the coast of Panadura pending the outcome of a Court case.
If the ship is subjected to any disaster, the harm to marine life would be immeasurable. As reported, the weight of the items in the ship is 15,612 tonnes. In addition, there are about 370 tonnes of furnace oil in the ship.
The Marine Environment Protection Authority will decide on future measures with regard to the furnace oil and cargo inside the ship. This ship is 155 metres in length and 127 metres in width. It was manufactured in 1985.
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