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"Denise & Polargo"

A Tragic Love Story

Feature Date: July, 2003

Countryman & McDaniel

 The Air & Ocean Logistics- Customs Broker Attorneys

"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene --At Buenos Aires

 A 2003 Countryman & McDaniel

Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

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"Denise & Polargo"

A Tragic Love Story

On The Scene

At Port of Las Palmas

8 March 2003

A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender !

The Time: Morning

The Date: Saturday 8 March 2003

The Place: Port of Las Palmas, Argentina

Denise & Polargo
The Barge Denise

Length : 67 meters

Beam : 16 meters

Draft : 3.2 meters

Net tonnage : 2250 MT

Container nominal Load : 150 TEU

TheTug Ploargo 6

Name : Polargo 6

Tug Boat Type : ship assist

Length : 22.16 meters

Beam : 6.80 meter

Draft : 2.80 meter

Power Plant : 2 x Deutz 12M816 (1484 HP )

Propellers : 2 with nozzles


This is the ocean barge Denise. She works in a short cabotage trade from the Port of Las Palmas -- 109km N. of Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Port Exolgan, one of the Buenos Aires metro area container terminals.

Argentine flag operator Vessel S.A. has been offering Argentine cabotage services between the Buenos Aires metropolitan area container terminals (there are 5 of them, all gantry crane equipped ) and the 1 gantry crane equipped terminal north of Buenos Aires, at Zarate Terminal, at "Km. 109" marker on the Parana river. Denise was headed for Zarate Terminal.

Denise has long worked with the ship assist tug Ploargo 6 -- in this river-to-ocean trade. Denise & Ploargo 6 are old hands together for many years on the Port Las Palmas to Port Exolgan run. Separate vessels in a common trade.

Fait would bring Denise & Ploargo 6 to a common end. The long relationship between Denise & Ploargo 6 would soon end.

We are now viewing this picture from aboard the deck of a PNA Patrol Vessel (Prefectura Naval Argentina) -- Argentine Coast Guard.

Ploargo 6 is on the notch of barge Denise riding low in the water. It appears there is a problem. The city is very close, and in fact, the result of this tragedy is still in full view at high tide, even today.

The ocean barge Denise is rated for a container nominal load of 150 TEU. This voyage has exceeded the limit.

This was the fatal decision.

Denise is taking water & doomed (along with all that great export cargo of Argentine wine!)

Will Ocean Tug Ploargo 6 now have to make these runs without it's dear Denise?

Well, these two mated vessels will not have to be alone.

Together to the end -- Ploargo 6 is actually bolted to Denise, and the wheelhouse sits on Denise, with connecting wires & hoses suspended between the two units.

The two maritime lovers begin their decent.



Denise took on water and went under just 3.5 kms from its destination, the Exolgan container terminal.

Denise & Ploargo 6 --

Probable reasons for the incident :

1. Gross overloading of Denise,

2. A risky marriage of Denise & Ploargo as the wheelhouse sits on the barge, with connecting wires & hose suspended between the units.

For 2002, Lloyd's of London esitimted that 10,000 containers went "overside" -- but we do not believe this includes river traffic, as here.

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker.  It's dangerous out there.


Argentine Coast Guard (Prefectura Naval Argentina)

Parana River Delta

Parana River

Port Exolgan

Zarate Terminal

Historic Container Disasters --

M/V OOCL America - Feb. 2000

M/V APL China - world's greatest container disaster of all time - Nov. 1998

Contributor To Our
"Denise & Polargo" Feature
Our Contributor In Argentina Has Requested To Remain Anonymous.
 Thanks to our contributor,

NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Information For This Loss.

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 8th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% Confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our friends send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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