A tale of two shipwrecks

One in Brittany, France, the other in Cape Breton, Canada. One cleaned up in a month, the other untouched after four, with no cleanup in sight.

Here’s the TK Bremen shortly after it grounded on Kerminihy Beach, near Erdeven, Brittany, France, on December 11. 2011.

And here’s the M/V Miner after it grounded on Scatarie Island, Cape Breton, after a towing cable parted on September 14, 2011.

The much larger Miner was under tow, bound for a scrapyard in Aliaga, Turkey. Here are the two ships’ specifications:

M/V Miner TK Bremen
Launched 1965 1982
Type Bulk carrier General cargo & bulk carrier
Built in Quebec, Canada Pusan, South Korea
Length (LOA) 222.5 m 109 m
Beam 23 m 16 m
Draught 8.2 m 6.74 m
Gross tonnage 17,831 3,992
power 8,000 bhp 4,000 bhp
Shipwrecked on Sept 20, 2011 Dec 16, 2011
Shipwrecked at Scatarie Island, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada Kerminihy Beach, Erdeven, Brittany, France
Flag * Malta
Owner Pella Shipping Co., Thessaloniki, Greece Blue Atlantic Shipping Ltd., Malta


The Bremen was much more accessible than the Miner, having grounded on a mainland beach, while the Miner fetched up on remote, unpopulated, forbidding Scatarie Island. Though very different, the two areas share one thing in common besides shipwrecks: The dunes adjacent to Kerminihy Beach are a nature preserve, and Scatarie is a provincially protected wilderness area.

There the similarities end. As detailed in a photo spread on TheAtlantic.com website, 40 men worked day and night for two weeks to dismantle the Bremen and clean up the beach, at a cost of nearly €10 million euros (CDN$13.2 million).

“One month after the wreck,” reports The Atlantic, “the cleanup process is nearly complete.”

The French cleanup began:

The work continued:

Here’s all that remained of the TK Bremen as of Monday:

I won’t attempt to draw any lessons. I’m no expert, and the Miner is a much larger vessel in a much dicier location. But it may be worth noting that three weeks after the Miner went aground, NS Premier Darrell Dexter hadn’t been able to get any federal agency to take charge of the disaster. And I can’t recall any Canadian shipwreck being cleaned up the way France cleaned up the Bremen, let alone in two weeks flat.

Makes you wonder.

The website Boatnerd.com details numerous collisions, groundings, and accidents experienced by the Miner its previous incarnations as the Canadian Miner, the LeMoyne, and the Maplecliffe Hall. More information about the Miner here and here, and about the Bremen herehere, and here.

* According to Boatnerd, the Miner’s Canadian registry was cancelled last June. I was unable to determine its registry for the aborted trip to Turkey.

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