London Insurer Posts $3.24 Million Bail for Prestige Captain

February 7, 2003

A. Bilbrough & Co., the managing agents of the London Protection and Indemnity Club, the marine insurers that issued coverage for the oil tanker Prestige, have posted a 3 million Euro ($3.24 million) bond for the release of Apostolos Mangouras, the 68-year-old Greek Captain, who’s been held in a Spanish jail since the ship sank last December.

According to a report from Reuters, the managers of the insurer saw no reason for the Captain’s incarceration, and decided to take the highly unusual step of posting bail for his release. “Our committee, which is comprised of shipowners, has been shocked at the treatment of a man, who, by all accounts, put himself at grave personal risk to do his duty in very difficult circumstances,” Reuters quoted Bilbrough chief executive Paul Hinton.

The Presitge was caught in heavy seas off the Spanish coast in December, and began leaking some of its 77,000-ton cargo of heavy fuel oil. Neither Spanish, nor Portuguese authorities would allow the stricken ship to dock at any port, and it was towed further out to sea, where it eventually broke apart and sank. Capt. Mangouras remained on board until there was no hope of saving the vessel.

Since it went down approximately 100 miles off the northwestern coast of Spain, the ship’s heavy fuel oil has continued to escape, causing ongoing pollution along the Spanish and French coast. The spill has resulted in severe economic losses for the region’s fishing and tourist industries, currently estimated at over $1 billion Euros ($1.08 billion) in addition to the costs of cleaning up the gooey oil that continues to come ashore.

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