ROADTOWN Tortola BVI, August 30th, 2011 – A team from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands and the Conservation and Fisheries Department surveyed the Wreck of the RMS Rhone Marine Park on Monday following confirmation of a cargo vessel which ran aground the park on Sunday, August 28.
Equipped with scuba personnel and underwater cameras, the team’s divers canvassed the waters to substantiate any damages to the marine park. The divers confirmed that no visible damage was seen to the sunken ship, ‘The RMS Rhone’ but pulverised rock, granite and an undetermined amount of soft and fire corals were present. Divers also confirmed that no leaks were presently seen coming from the grounded cargo vessel ‘Tropic Sun’.
Director of the National Parks Trust Mr. Joseph Smith Abbott described the incident as unfortunate but was pleased that the Wreck itself sustained no damages.
“There are several portions of the reef and the boulder structures which sustained damage; however the wreck was not damaged in the process,” the director said.
He added, “The trust will continue to work with other agencies and the vessels owners to ensure that the cargo vessel is removed in a safe manner and that the integrity of the site, the reef and the wreck are maintained throughout the process.” Other government agencies also visited the site to conduct their assessments.
These included the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, the BVI Ports Authority, the Department of Disaster Management, the Police Marine Department and the BVI Ports Authority.
The Wreck of the RMS Rhone was declared a Marine Park in 1980 and comprises 766 acres. It was annexed to the Dead Man’s Chest National Park which was declared a national park in 1974 and comprises 34 acres.
The Wreck of the RMS Rhone Marine Park extends from Lee Bay on Salt Island westward to include Dead Chest Island. It is the historic shipwreck of a royal mail steamer and is managed by the National Parks Trust for recreational diving and snorkelling purposes. It also serves as a fish sanctuary.
The National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands will continue to monitor the situation as they celebrate 50 years of managing the Territory’s important natural and historical resources.
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