Salvage crew plays safe with big bladder

2012-05-15 22:49

Johannesburg - Attempts to salvage a 50m fishing boat off First Beach, in Clifton, will resume on Wednesday, the City of Cape Town said.

Salvage teams reassembled on Tuesday to try and pull the vessel from the beach where it had run aground, but attempts to re-float it failed.

The salvage team would, meanwhile, lay a thick, black, rubber bladder on the beach as a precaution against any oil spills, the city said in a statement.

"Arrangements are being made for the decanting of fuel [from the vessel] into the rubber bladder."

The city said this would provide buoyancy and would hopefully result in a successful attempt to re-float.

"At this stage, the quantity to be decanted is unclear, however only a certain volume of fuel will need to be removed to provide the buoyancy required for the operation.

"The pollution risk posed by this operation remains very low."

Lines were being reconnected between the stranded vessel and a tug powerful enough to pull it into deep waters.

On Saturday, the Eihatsu Maru longline fishing vessel, a Japanese boat, ran aground at 05:15 in thick fog. In total, 90 tons of diesel and 50 tons of fish were on board.

The salvage attempts would not affect the Blue Flag status of Fourth Beach, the city assured residents.

A Blue Flag is an international award given to beaches that meet excellence in areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards.

Law enforcement would be present in the area to help regulate civilian access to the affected areas.

Clifton's First, Second and Third Beaches were closed, but Clifton Fourth Beach remained open to the public.

"In the event that salvage attempts are again unsuccessful, a risk assessment will be conducted and the public will be informed accordingly," said City spokesperson Tandeka Gqada.

Of the 28 Taiwanese crew members on board, 19 were evacuated. The remaining crew members and the captain were required to stay on the ship under international maritime law.