Prestige provokes sea change

In the tarry wake of November’s shipwreck off Spain of the Prestige oil tanker, the Merchant Marine Ministry will focus on maritime safety during Greece’s tenure of the rotating European Union presidency, the government said yesterday. «The Prestige… has forced the Greek presidency to reconfigure» its priorities, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis told a press conference. But Anomeritis argued that it is still far from certain that the shipwreck and ensuing massive oil spill could be blamed on the fact that the Prestige has a single hull. «I know many people do not accept that the shipwreck was caused by the ship having a single hull,» he said. The EU is pressing for all single-hulled tankers to be gradually withdrawn from service. Anomeritis said some 53 percent of Greek-flagged tankers are double-hulled, and about 20 percent of Greek-owned tankers flying flags of convenience. The minister also criticized France and Spain for their unilateral decision to ban single-hulled tankers from their 200-mile Economic Exclusion Zones.

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