Rough seas leave tanker stranded
Cape Town - Attempts at hauling a 164m tanker back out to sea from close to the shore at Salt Rock, near Durban on Tuesday, have proved fruitless.
The Phoenix, a derelict bulk tanker on its way to a scrap yard in India – with just a skeleton crew on board, was passing the South African coast and put to anchor off-shore of the Durban North Coast to wait out inclement weather on Monday, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.
A cold front pushed through during Monday bringing up to 4m swells and a 25 to 30 knot wind with rough sea conditions, and the Phoenix broke anchor.
Efforts by the crew to hold the vessel off-shore by her own motor power were scuppered by strong sea swells pushing shoreward.
"Following reports that her anchor chain had failed, the Transnet National Ports Authority dispatched the salvage tug Smit Amandla [belonging to Smit Amandla Marine] to attempt to attach a tow-line, and to drag the bulk tanker out to deep sea.
"Attempts to attach a tow-line in rough seas was not immediately possible on Monday night and the Phoenix ran hard aground at about 10:00 on Tuesday,” NSRI Durban station commander Clifford Ireland said.
Ireland said that according to the Transnet National Ports Authority, Smit Amandla Marine requested a team from Subtech salvors to assist on Tuesday morning.
A six-man Subtech salvage team has been airlifted onto the Phoenix to attach a tow-line which will be provided from the Smit Amandla salvage tug - attempts will then be made to tow the vessel to deep-sea, he said
Earlier, the crew was removed from the stricken vessel, as a precautionary measure.
"All 15 crew were airlifted off the Phoenix after it ran aground and although the crew were reportedly in no immediate danger they were taken off the vessel for safety precautions," said NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.
None of the crew was injured, he said.