What happened to UK aframax British Merlin?
I’ve received an e-mail at 0630 UTC Aug 17 saying of a possible mishap on board of UK aframax tanker British Merlin, asking me if I have any information. I don’t have any info yet, but judging from information given in a letter, some kind of emergency definitely took place. If anyone knows what happened and what’s going on, please advise email@example.com
The MV British Merlin was bound for Malta since Aug 12 from the oil port of Trieste, due to arrive today in the afternoon.
It was on course till Aug 13 at about 2 p.m. when at a point some 30 miles south of Gagliano del Capo (Ionian Sea, south of Italy's boot heel) it abruptly changed course, veering 80 deg. to port and heading towards a general area 50 miles west of the Greek island of Kefalonia.
For most of Wed-13 evening the vessel was accompanied astern by an unidentified but numbered, probably naval, vessel. At 10 p.m. she started losing speed, from its average 12 knots to 1 knot 40 minutes later and started limping east towards the Greek islands at less than 1 knot.
The Merlin was classified as a "vessel not under command".
Last AIS position on FleetMon on Aug 16 at 1900UTC at 36.92N 19.17E underway at 1.0 knot course 166, possibly heading on its own steam to Malta.
It may be just a breakdown, a mechanical trouble of some kind, but Navy or CG ships don’t follow troubled merchant vessels without a reason, especially in the middle of the sea with no risk of running aground. Maybe there were explosion and fire, maybe something else happened, which threatens environment or shipping in the area. Tanker most probably, is adrift, her speed 1 knot is generally, a speed of a disabled, drifting vessel. No details on cargo, it’s unknown whether vessel is in ballast or loaded.