Port Authority boss assures Alfa Nero will be secured in light of tropical depression

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Plans are underway to secure the Alfa Nero as the country prepares for the likelihood of a topical depression in a few days.
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By Robert A Emmanuel

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As the Eastern Caribbean prepares for the likelihood of a potential tropical storm hitting its shores, the manager at the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority is assuring that pre-emptive action will be taken to protect the safety of the Falmouth Harbour where a superyacht is moored.

Last Friday, American billionaire Eric Schmidt was announced as the winning bidder with US$67.6 million, but at the time of going to press, he had not yet deposited the funds into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund.

This means that the vessel, which had been abandoned in the Falmouth Harbour since February 2022, continues to be moored there with sufficient equipment and crew to move it.

However, with a tropical depression advisory recently issued by the National Hurricane Centre and the Antigua and Barbuda Met Services, the environmental dangers which Port Manager Darwin Telemaque sought to prevent with the Alfa Nero sale, could become a reality if left unaddressed.

Speaking on Observer AM yesterday, Telemaque said that plans are in the works to see the vessel moved to safety.

“The Alfa Nero, being as big as it is, and drafting as much as it does, cannot go into many of our safe harbours, so there is limited space where we could put this vessel if a storm comes.

“If it becomes a major hurricane, which is what we were always trying to prevent, then we have some concerns … but for now, we are in the process of designing a plan where the tugs would move the vessel to safety. They would stay with her and upon the passage of this weather system, they would come back in and, hopefully, we can execute what we need to do with the winning bidder,” he explained.

Last year, Antigua and Barbuda was relatively spared the effects of major hurricanes and tropical storms; however, it seems increasingly likely that the tropical depression (at the time of writing) could impact the Caribbean in a matter of days.

Telemaque has repeatedly noted the concerns of the maritime authorities with the environmental damage that the Alfa Nero posed to the harbour, which he explained in more detail yesterday.

“There are three basic risks and one of them was the environment, and that persists as we speak; the Alfa Nero has a broken sewage system which does not allow for the treatment of raw sewage, which means that the harbour is receiving the effluent directly from the vessel without it being treated.

“In most cases, vessels that are in and around the harbour would store their effluent or waste, and they’d go outside a little distance and dump it and come back in [but] the Alfa Nero is unable to do that,” he said.

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