BY CIARAN TIERNEY in the Galway City Tribune.
The saga over the transfer of two former Aran islands ferries to a new owner in Mauritius took a new twist yesterday when the large Danish cargo ship which is due to collect them was arrested at Galway Harbour.
An order from the Irish Admiralty Marshal, Paula Healy, for the detention of the Thor Gitta effectively means that the Danish registered cargo ship cannot leave the docks with the Clann na nOileain and Clan Eagle 1 ferries on board.
The arrest, believed to be the first in 20 years at the port, is the equivalent of a High Court injunction and ensures that the multi-purpose 7,000 tonne ship will be unable to leave Irish waters pending the payment of a bond to the Irish authorities.
A complaint was received by the Admiralty Marshal at the High Court in Dublin and Ms Healy proceeded with the arrest warrant which was issued to the ship’s captain when staff from the Revenue Commissioners boarded the vessel at lunchtime yesterday.
A watchman presented the arrest order to the ship’s master and a ‘keeper’ from Revenue is set to maintain a presence on the boat over the weekend.
The detention of the ship comes a week after an accident in which three men were injured when one of the ferries, Clann na nOileain, plunged into the docks from a height of about 12 metres (40 feet) after a cable snapped on one of the cargo ship’s two 60 metre high cranes.
See the story on the fall with video and pictures.
That accident occurred a week after another huge cargo ship, the German registered Pantanal, ran aground on rocks near Rossaveal after it was also deployed to pick up the two ferries. Throughout the past week, the Pantanal has been moored off Mutton Island as a team of welders have repaired the damage caused to the vessel.
Although a new cable has been sourced from the Netherlands for the Thor Gitta this week, yesterday’s arrest means that all three vessels will be left sitting in Galway Harbour over the weekend while the Pantanal continues to sit out in the bay.