The crew of an Israeli-owned general cargo vessel have been forced to abandon ship after the vessel began listing in an Italian port.

The 3,700-dwt Seven S (built 1994) started to list on Tuesday afternoon after loading at the Intermodal Marine Terminal (IMT) in Genoa.

The crew were forced to abandon ship after the vessel began listing at 25 degrees.

Dockers and stevedores were forced to abandon the quay, and one port operator was slightly injured.

The Panamanian-flag Seven S righted overnight with the intervention of the local fire brigade. Cargo was unloaded and the operation was completed at 3am, according to local press reports.

Cause unclear

The cause of the accident remains unclear, although local press reports speculate there may have been some error in the movement of water in the ballast tanks.

It has not been ruled out that the cargo was loaded incorrectly, in combination with the ballast water manoeuvers, Il Secolo reports.

The 29-year-old Seven S is one of nine general cargo and multipurpose vessels in the fleet of Haifa Marine Shipping of Israel, according to Clarkson.

Ravenna-based law firm Mauro Group has been appointed to defend the shipowner.

The legal firm said investigations have been launched by the Genoa harbour master's office into the role of the captain, the first deck officer and the chief engineer officer.

Local press reports quote the Messina Group, which owns the IMT terminal, saying the company had followed the instructions given by the ship’s captain regarding the stowage of the cargo.

The terminal operator added that it immediately took steps to limit any negative consequences.