Authorities escalate Clifton salvage

2012-05-14 22:15
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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 - The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) will lead attempts to pull the stricken Japanese longliner, Eihatsu Maru, from the shore at Clifton First Beach, after previous attempts failed, the City of Cape Town said on Monday.

Samsa, which made the call to elevate the salvage to a national issue, has appointed Smit Amandla Marine, a maritime services provider, as the lead salvage agent.

City spokesperson Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the operation would take place between 10:00 and 13:20 on Tuesday.

After the vessel ran aground on Saturday, a salvage attempt later in the day failed when a tow rope snapped.

Then, on Sunday, the salvage operation was suspended due to unfavourable surf conditions that would have endangered the safe operation of the tug boats and the crew on-board.

"The key issue with the attempt is the establishment of a connection point on the vessel that will withstand the estimated 80 ton pull force that is required. The tow rope snapped when 20 tons of pull force was applied.

"As a result, Smit will be putting a team of engineers on board today [on Monday] to establish a connection and pull point on the vessel," Solomons-Johannes said.

Pulling the vessel off the shore remains the best method for salvaging the ship, he said.

Grounding questioned

The cause of the incident has not been established, but considering that the vessel's engine remains in working order, and the generators are still operating, questions are being asked as to whether the  grounding was possibly deliberate.

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 5m; 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."

A live webcam is capturing all the action from the Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club.
Read more on:    samsa  |  cape town  |  maritime

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