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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkMexico & Banderas Bay Area News 

Two Years after Grounding, Los Llanitos is Breaking Up

October 16, 2017

On Friday, October 23, 2015, Hurricane Patricia caused the bulk carrier Los Llanitos to run aground near Punta Graham, Barra de Navidad, some 25 nautical miles north of Manzanillo on Mexico's Pacific coast.

Manzanillo, Mexico - 'Los Llanitos,' the 38,000-tonne freighter that was driven aground in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco by Hurricane Patricia two years ago, is falling apart and has split in two. Almost half of the ship's stern is buried in the bay, and the navigation booth, which had a height of 30 meters, has collapsed, but there is no sign of oil leaking from the 223-meter vessel, environmental officials say.

The Mexican-flagged ship was wrecked October 23, 2015 at Punta Graham, about 43 kilometers from Manzanillo, during the category 5 hurricane. It had been ordered to leave the port and take shelter from the storm in Lázaro Cárdenas, but the captain delayed his departure by 11 hours and headed in the opposite direction. No explanation for the captain's actions has been given.

The ship was unable to handle the winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour and waves up to 10 meters high. Twenty-seven crew members were taken off the ship by helicopter after it went aground.

Later, salvage crews removed several thousand liters of oil, diesel and other contaminants, although there were reports in July that there were signs of an oil leak.

The federal Communications and Transportation Secretariat had ordered the dismantling of the ship after it was decided it would not withstand being refloated and scuttled in another location nearby.

Dismantling, a process that can take around two years, requires the approval of the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat, and it's not clear whether that approval was ever granted, or if the ship will be sunk to create an artificial reef, which was proposed in November of 2015.

Officials with the environmental agency Profepa inspected the vessel last week when they found it was breaking up. Inspections are now being carried out twice a week.

Despite the many fractures that the boat has, the Captain of the Port of Manzanillo considers that the current conditions of Los Llanitos do not represent a danger for navigation, nor for the fishing community in the area.