Rough seas leave tanker stranded

2011-07-26 18:36

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.

Chain failed

"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.

  • Nunya - 2011-07-26 19:08

    Hope there is no oil and horrible stuff on board......

      whyrpplinpowerstupid - 2011-07-26 21:02

      Heard on E news, there's not much oil aboard.

  • John Paul - 2011-07-26 19:19

    how about scrapping it right here? Dont salvage scrap, scrap it.

      Mikemcc - 2011-07-27 09:56

      Clearly you know nothing about the effort required to reduce a vessel of this size to scrap.

  • Mad Dog - 2011-07-26 20:52

    Insurance claim! Mark my words!

      Tigra - 2011-07-27 08:56

      Paranoid much?

      Mikemcc - 2011-07-27 09:57

      Since it was on its way to be scrapped I imagine the insurance will not be very high, the insurer will probably then deduct all the costs of salavge and ultimately the owner will get nothing.

  • - 2011-07-26 21:03

    I have been watching this tanker from my flat for about a week.It was on tow and then both anchored off Ballito for days,until the storm struck.Apparently tanker has no oil or fuel on board,good news.Why were they anchored here for so long on the way to India?

      elspeth.hassall - 2011-07-27 11:21

      Hi! They had an engine fail of the Eastern Cape, it was towed 70km off shore and the owner requested to remove it from the SA Exclusive Econmoic Zone (our territorial waters) but the owners failed to do so...then SA Marintime Safety Authority went to court to get a court order,for the dentention & seizure of the ship.This was granted on 22/07 but was only to be made final on 4/08. The bad weather came and the rest is they say! That is why it was at the Outer Anchorage for so long.

      elspeth.hassall - 2011-07-27 11:24

      Unfortunatel it does have bunker oil on board :-( Let's hope they can get her off, or pump the oil out, before there is too much damage.

      Charmaine - 2011-07-28 10:28

      joe I agree what a tourist attraction!!! To all complaining about their view - it is not your view. You own the land you live on not the see or its view. I also live there and I don't mind watching the tanker become a playground for tourists and fish.

  • - 2011-07-26 21:07

    Tanker was on its way to India to scrapyard.I hope they sink it just off the rocks,it will create a beaut of a reef for more fish and Crayfish!!!

  • Diwe - 2011-07-27 08:06

    We went to take a look yesterday and the smell of diesel was very strong. It is obviously leaking :(

  • Bill - 2011-07-27 09:00

    Great! Another tourist attraction at Ballito!

  • roy - 2011-07-27 09:19

    lets drain the fuel . split the boat in two or three pieces and drag it 100 m into the sea. Will make a great tourist/ diving attraction. Lets get Durban tourism to request this....

      elspeth.hassall - 2011-07-27 11:27

      Easier said than done!

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