Whatever your environmental concerns, and mine are many, it’s awe inspiring to sail through Milford Haven and wonder at the engineering feet that confronts you at every turn. On our trip out to the Smalls from Neyland we passed a whole array of tankers and three monsters in particular stood out.
I remember in the early 70’s, as a young lad, going down to the Mersey to watch the arrival of the Melo. Thousands had the same idea and we were in traffic jams getting to the front at Hall Road, just past Seaforth on the shores of the Mersey. It was one of the first super tankers, around 250,00 tons and carrying crude oil from the Persian Gulf to the UK. There was concern that the potential for some form of disaster was on our doorstep and I can remember feeling uneasy but excited about its arrival. Around the same period three of these new generation super tankers had exploded and of course the environmental disaster that was the Torrey Canynon was still fresh in our minds and she was carrying less than half of the Melo!
We are told now that the design of the current fleet of tankers plying their trade in our waters are far safer than forty tears ago and I’ve no doubt they are, yet there still remains a very worrying prospect of some catastrophic event occurring that’s unprecedented.
The three monsters in the Haven on this particular day were the Al Sheehaniya, built this year, 315 meters in length and 60 meters wide; the Navion Britannia, a little shorter in length but with a greater dead weight tonnage of 127,00 and the real ‘star’ of the Haven, the Arctic Princess. She’s the first LNG carrier employed for carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the world’s northernmost LNG development–Snohvit and with a capacity to carry, in one single cargo, the energy requirements of all the households in a city of 45,000 people for a whole year.
The development of the LNG pipeline through Wales has proved to be very controversial and many are concerned how close the pipeline, which runs from Milford Haven to Swansea and then, skirting the Brecon Beacons National park, to Gloucestershire, is to residential areas. It’s also a highly inflammable substance and the speed at which the development has taken place is of concern to many. How safe is it? Why are we not investing more in renewables? What is the likely hood of terrorist attacks within the Haven? Questions that are posed as you pass this strange looking vessel.
There are no easy answers to our energy problems but surely we are putting too much at risk with such developments and need to begin to reduce our consumption and think of viable alternatives that are less threatening. As I travelled down the Haven passed these giants on a trip to monitor dolphins, there seemed to be a strange paradox in who we are, what we need or desire and the cost we are prepared to pay for such luxuries.