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LETTER: Tanker’s a ticking time bomb in Yemen

Being a retired Deep-Sea Tanker Master I read marine websites on a daily basis…

To the Editor,

Being a retired Deep-Sea Tanker Master I read marine websites on a daily basis, and have become increasingly alarmed by how Yemen’s civil war threatens marine environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Of particular concern is a floating storage and offloading (FSO) tanker ironically named Safer, after the Yemeni government-owned oil company.

FSO Safer is a 45 year-old, 362-metre (1,188-foot) rusting hulk containing over a million barrels of oil (48 million gallons), moored just offshore from coastline controlled by Houthi rebels, supported by Iran in their fight against the government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and others.

While the tragedy of civil war takes its terrible toll on the Yemeni population, the rebels have held the tanker and its cargo as a bargaining chip for the past five years. With no maintenance allowed, the situation on board is now so severe that salvage is the only solution to avert a marine disaster of ginormous proportions.

The rebels refuse to work with the United Nations, and Western nations have developed a blind spot as far as Yemen is concerned. The FSO Safer is a ticking time bomb that could crack open or explode and wreak havoc into the Red Sea with a potential oil spill about four times greater than 1989’s Exxon Valdez.

Tragically, the world’s media is so caught up with the pandemic, anti-discrimination protests, pending presidential elections, vaccine hacking, etc, that insufficient pressure is brought to bear for the United Nations to knock Middle Eastern heads together and organize immediate salvage operations.

“Loquacious Liz” (Elizabeth) May, the Leader of Canada’s Green Party, and others have spent many years spouting untruths about tanker safety.

Despite their obvious control of social media and other networks, they, and multitudes of supposedly environmentally-concerned followers, have been strangely silent when very real tanker safety is involved in the Red Sea.

Bernie Smith,


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