Questions over ship's grounding

2012-05-14 18:05
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Trawler runs aground at Clifton beach

A 50m fishing trawler has run aground at First Beach in Clifton, Cape Town. Salvage operations are under way.

Cape Town - As attempts to salvage a 50-metre fishing trawler which ran aground off Clifton in Cape Town continue, questions have been raised about how this could have happened, and whether the grounding was possibly deliberate.

The Eihatsu Maru, a Japanese long line fishing vessel, ran aground in heavy fog at Clifton's First Beach 05:15 on Saturday morning. It was carrying 90 tons of diesel and 50 tons of fish. Most of the Taiwanese crew were evacuated.

A salvage operation was put on hold due to heavy seas over the weekend, Sapa reported. On Monday, various officials met to assess the situation and are planning to pull the vessel off the sandbank on Tuesday.

The cause of the grounding has not been established. The engine remains in working order, and the generators are still operating.

Navigational equipment

Meanwhile, industry experts have questioned how the grounding could have occurred.

A source told 2oceansvibe that fog should not have played a role in the incident, and it is very unlikely the fishing vessel wouldn't have known where it was positioned. It is also strange that port authorities hadn't alerted the captain to the vessel's proximity to the shore.

The navigational equipment and engine appear to be in working order, which led the source to question whether it could have been a "purposeful grounding". This would lead to the vessel being written off, and an insurance payout.

"That trawler has enough hi-tech marine electronics onboard to know exactly its position within minimum five metres; there has to be another reason here," the source told 2oceansvibe. "These trawlers operate in deep sea conditions, they know exactly where they are at any given moment on the high seas, don't think fog played a role here as there is fog at sea around the world."

The source added that the trawler should be removed as soon as possible due to the fuel and ammonia on board.

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