Divers Assess Damage to Cargo Ship

Divers are on their way to a German cargo ship currently that was damaged yesterday, Vísir reports. Environmental concerns surround the ship due to the possibility of an oil leak. Although damage to the ship has been confirmed, the extent of it is not yet known.

En route to Rotterdam

The cargo ship in question ran aground yesterday, September 10, near Akurey, a small island outside of Reykjavík harbour. A possible oil spill was detected in the area and the Coast Guard’s search and rescue team was called in for assistance. The ship, which was on its way to Rotterdam, returned to harbour.

An environmental protection barrier was placed around the ship.

Ágeir Erlendsson, information officer for the Coast Guard, stated to Vísir: “We saw this thin film of oil, both from Óðinn’s (a Coast Guard ship) observation deck and from a helicopter fly-over. This thin film was seen where the ship ran aground. That’s why it’s heading into the harbour, and we will then further quarantine it.”

Divers assessing damage

However, as of today, September 11, the oil leak is yet to be confirmed. Divers are currently on their way to the ship to further assess the situation.

The ship is on lease to Eimskip from its owner, German logistics company Peter Döhle.

“The divers are on their way to assess the damage,” stated  There is some damage, and it is uncertain whether the ship can sail. Most likely, some repairs will need to be carried out, but we do not know the extent of them,” stated Edda Rut Björnsdóttir, a representative for Eimskip. “There is some damage, and it is uncertain whether the ship can sail. Most likely, some repairs will need to be carried out, but we do not know the extent of them.”

The Environment Agency has been informed, and a transportation investigation committee is said to be conducting an investigation into the matter.

Is there an article about the Icelandic passenger ship that was sunk in 1944 by a U-boat?

godafoss icelandic ship ww2

On November 10, 1944, a German U-boat sank Goðafoss, an Icelandic passenger ship, just outside Reykjavík harbour, leading to the deaths of  24 people. We haven’t written about the event itself, but we have, however, covered the reception history of an interesting book about the event, called “Útkall: Árás á Goðafoss,” or “SOS: Attack on the Goðafoss.” 

Published in 2003 by Óttar Sveinsson, it attracted international attention and has been translated into multiple languages. Notably, when it was translated into German, a special press conference was held at the Frankfurt book fair, in which an Icelandic survivor from the attack and a former U-Boat crew member met and reconciled. After the German translation attracted some attention, a documentary was even made about the event in Germany. 

While the Goðafoss may certainly be the most notorious U-boat attack from an Icelandic perspective, it was certainly not the only one to affect Icelanders. Because of Iceland’s important position between Europe and North America, many wartime convoys passed through Iceland. Icelandic vessels were very careful to fly the Icelandic flag to signal their neutrality, but some eight Icelandic vessels were nevertheless attacked and sunk by U-boats during the war.

Vík Mayor Wants to Build Harbour for Sand Mine

Vík í Mýrdal

Iceland’s Minister of the Environment and Energy opposes plans to transport sand from a planned sand mine in South Iceland by truck along the Ring Road. Residents have expressed opposition to the plans, which would see large trucks driving at 7- to 8- minute intervals along the Ring Road in South Iceland 24 hours per day. The mayor of Vík, just 15 km west of the mine’s planned location, has proposed building a harbour in the town from which the sand could be exported.

Road transport “is not going to work” says Environment Minister

“Everyone knows that there is a lot of strain on infrastructure as it is, and putting heavy transport on top of that is something that I don’t think there will ever be agreement on,” Environment Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson stated. “Whichever way you look at it, adding to these roads and through these settlements is not going to work.”

Negative impact on traffic, positive on the climate

In 2020, German company EP Power Minerals purchased a large property in South Iceland, around 15 km [9.3 mi] east of the town of Vík í Mýrdal. The property mostly consists of sand plains and the company plans to establish a sand mine on it. The sand would be exported to Europe and possibly North America, where it will be used as an additive in cement.

A recently-published environmental report on the proposed mine judged the project’s impact on traffic and roads to be “considerably negative.” Its climate impact, however, was evaluated as “considerably positive,” as the material produced would replace cement clinker and reduce carbon emissions due to concrete production by 800 million kg of CO2 equivalents annually.

Only coastal town without a harbour

Einar Freyr Elínarson, Mayor of Mýrdalshreppur municipality (in which Vík is located), has proposed building a harbour in Vík from which the mined materials could be exported.

“Route 1 passes through several urban areas on the way to Þorlákshöfn [the planned export harbour]. So we in the municipality propose looking into the possibility of shipping all of this out from here on the coast, and building a harbour,” Einar told Vísir.

Vík is the only coastal town in Iceland that doesn’t have a harbour, but the south coast’s strong waves post challenges in such construction projects. The nearby Landeyjarhöfn harbour, from which the Westman Islands ferry departs, fills with sand that must be pumped out regularly.

Einar says he has proposed the idea to EP Power Minerals representatives who have not expressed direct opposition to the idea. The harbour would not be built using public funds, Einar says, calling it an “exciting opportunity” for the municipality, as well as the local tourism and fishing industries.