Phosphate cargo ship broken up off Christmas Island

Wild weather has seen a cargo ship carrying phosphate break against the coast of Christmas Island.

The MV Tycoon reportedly smashed into the sea wall during heavy swells after it came loose from its moorings over the weekend.

The ship had been loading phosphate from the Christmas Island mines over the past three days.


According to the ABC, weather conditions have worsened and the wreckage is a mess.

Scott Fisher, from the island’s Volunteer Marine Rescue, said diesel oil surrounds the ship.

"There’s oil washing around close to it, there’s swells up the height of the wharf, the cliff, and the ship is just sitting on the bottom," he said.

It is feared that any phosphate which escapes from the damaged vessel may pose a risk to coral and local wild life.

WA Today reported that if the cargo leaks from the Tycoon, it will likely kill the surrounding coral reefs.

According to The West, while oil leaking from the ship poses a direct hazard to the local threatened sea birds and to coral, the actual phosphate cargo is unlikely to have long term effects on the environment as it is in crystal forms, and would not cause algal blooms, but may smother the reef.

The Greens have called for an immediate inquiry into the cause of the accident and subsequent oil spill.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert has asked "why was this ship left on its moorings at the loading dock when the forecast was indicating swell conditions?

"I understand that under these circumstances it wouol dbe normal to move the ship from its moorings – why didn’t it happen?

“Given the nature of the conditions it is unlikely that the heavy bunker oil, diesel and phosphate currently flowing into the marine environment will be contained or cleaned up," Siewert added.

Christmas Island was recently the site of serious industrial action which threatened to shut down the island’s mining industry.

Image: ABC – Scott Fisher


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