Spanish release master of Prestige

Feb 10, 2003
Author: P&S

The 68-year old master of the ill-fated tanker Prestige, Apostolos Mangouras, was freed on bail last week when the ship’s English P&I Club put up the bail money amounting to 3 million euros (US.3 million). He has been held in a Spanish jail without charge for nearly two and a half months shortly after his ship sank in the Atlantic in November, resulting in oil spills on the Spanish coast.

In terms of his bail Mangouras will however have to remain in Spain awaiting possible charges.

At one point it was reported that Captain Mangouras was being held in isolation, although later he was allowed to mix and converse with fellow prisoners.

The Prestige is the latest in a series of high-profile ship sinkings to have drawn attention to the reluctance of maritime authorities in many countries, including South Africa, to allow stricken ships a haven of refuge.

The single-hulled Prestige developed a hole in the side while off Cape Finisterre en route for Gibraltar and began leaking oil. Both Spanish and Portuguese maritime authorities ordered the ship to move away from their respective coasts after most of the crew of 27 had been taken off by helicopter. According to Spanish authorities Prestige’s master delayed his negotiations with attending tugs while he haggled over cost.

Dutch salvage company Smit Salvage later took the tanker in tow into deep water where she sank. Specialists have subsequently plugged the hole using sophisticated underwater robotic gear, entombing about 77,000 tonnes of oil for another drama another day.

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