Seething company aids stricken oil tanker Genmar Companion off the coast of Belfast

Norfolk based Fendercare Marine was at the heart of an operation to help a stricken oil tanker offload its cargo off the coast of Belfast.

The operation was unusually requested by the owners of Genmar Companion following a discovery of a crack in the deck of the vessel en route from Rotterdam to New York.

The Genmar Companion had sheltered off Copeland Islands since December 16 having been refused entry into Cork to conduct the repairs necessary to the deck.

The vessel was carrying 54,000 tonnes of vacuum gas oil that needed to be transferred to another vessel prior to entering Belfast Harbour and the owners therefore contracted Fendercare, the specialist ship-to-ship transfer (STS) operators, whose base is at Seething, near Beccles.

The company used one of its most experienced mooring masters, George Mills, to oversee the transfer, which was finally completed on Friday.

Mr Mills has been a marine pilot for more than 25 years.

'The vessels used in this operation were of a similar size, which is an unusual situation,' Mr Mills said.

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'But we only complete transfers within strict limits to ensure we maintain our exceptionally high health and safety record.'

One of the world's most experienced STS operators, Fendercare Marine last year had a turnover of �110m in 2011 and managed 3,500 transfers from its 30 global bases for a variety of clients, including oil majors and independent oil traders.

It is also one of the world's leading suppliers of marine equipment and services, including the renowned Yokohama fenders that are used in all their STS operations.

Keith Loffstadt, vice-chairman of Fendercare Marine said: 'This was a standard operation for us.

'We had planned to start the transfer on January 1, but the operation was delayed due to the bad weather and high winds in the region.

'On January 6, the weather improved enough to ensure a safe transfer of cargo and allowed the operation to take place within our environmental parameters'.

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