SAMSA moves to ensure maritime environmental safety around stricken Greek vessel headed for Cape Town

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Greek owned bulk carrier, the Antaois, currently on tow off the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town after suffering fire and water damage in its engine, leading to its crew having to be rescued earlier this week. Once near Cape Town, its bunker oil will transferred offshore to ensure ocean environmental safety and integrity, according to SAMSA

Pretoria: 08 December 2016

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has begun fully mobilizing appropriate and relevant safety measures to secure maritime environmental safety in the wake of a salvage operation this week involving a stricken Greek bulk carrier on the Atlantic Ocean west of Cape Town.

The disabled vessel, a Greece registered bulk carrier known as the Antaios, came to SAMSA’s attention after it reportedly suffered fire and water damage in its engine room while located some 870 nautical miles west of Cape Town late last week, en route from Argentina to the Middle East.

According to SAMSA, the vessels’ crew abandoned ship on Sunday and were rescued to safety by a passing Japanese ore carrier, the ‘NSU Fortune’; that dropped them off in Cape Town on Monday.

On Wednesday, SAMSA reported the Antaois – a 19 years old 27 776 DWT bulk carrier owned by Amalthia Marine Incorporated of Greece, and laden with a cargo of soya flour and corn being shipped from San Lorenzo, Argentina to Yemen – as currently under tow by the salvage tug ‘Smit Amandla’.

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SAMSA said the safety measures being rolled out involved retrieving safely and transferring offshore the estimated 170 metric tonnes of bunker fuel in the vessels’ belly. Among other issues, this would entail ensuring the vessel remained at no less than 30 miles off the coast of Cape Town.

SAMSA Executive Head for Centre for Shipping, Captain Nigel Campbell
SAMSA Executive Head of Centre for Shipping, Captain Nigel Campbell

SAMSA Executive Head for the Centre for Shipping, Captain Nigel Campbell said: “The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) requires the owner to prioritise the removal of the casualty’s bunkers to neutralise any environmental threat before giving permission for the vessel to proceed closer to the South African coast.

“Until such time as the fuel transfer operation has been completed, vessel surveys undertaken and a comprehensive salvage plan approved, SAMSA has ordered that casualty remain at least 30 miles off.

“The multi‐purpose tug ‘Peridot’ is currently being mobilised from Cape Town, together with specialist personnel and equipment and will rendezvous with the convoy of tug and tow and commence preparations for the transfer of bunker fuel and water, which includes the pumping of the flooded engine room and repair of damage sustained,” said Captain Campbell.

He said SAMSA was working closely with all interested parties including owners and their underwriters to “ensure that safety of life and environmental protection remain the key priorities of this operation.”

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Rescued crew of stricken Greek ship in the Atlantic Ocean on their way to Cape Town

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Stricken Greek bulk carrier, the Antaios. It’s rescued crew currently on their way to Cape Town..

Pretoria: 05 December 2016

The entire crew of a bulk carrier that sent a distress call after reportedly suffering engine fire damage off the Atlantic Ocean has been rescued and is currently on its way to Cape Town, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported in Pretoria on Monday.

The 19 crew were plucked off the stricken Greek bulk carrier ANTAIOS by an ore carrier, the NSU INSPIRE – and now currently on their way to Cape Town Harbour – after their vessel reportedly experienced a fire and flooding in the engine room while sailing from Argentina to Saudi Arabia.

In a statement on Monday, SAMSA said its Centre for Sea Watch and  Response based in Cape Town had received a satellite phone call from the NSU INSPIRE – a 330 meter Japanese ore carrier – reporting  a distress call from the ANTAIOS.

nsu-inspire-2“The 170 meter ANTAIOS had reportedly experienced a fire in the engine room while sailing from Argentina en route to Saudi Arabia loaded with grain. The fire caused some damage which led to flooding in the engine room. When the flooding became uncontrollable, the captain decided to make a distress call and order the crew to abandon ship,” said SAMSA.

SAMSA reports that the dramatic incident apparently occurred in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, in an area some 860 nautical miles west of Cape Town and an area the maritime authority said was  well outside of the striking distance of shore-based rescue facilities.

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Circled in red on the left end of the map is the area on the Atlantic Ocean at which crew of a stricken Greek vessel, the ANTAIOS were rescued on Sunday, according to the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Monday

“The mayday call was picked by the NSU INSPIRE which was sailing from Brazil to Singapore and China. The captain of the NSU INSPIRE immediately informed the SAMSA CSWR and proceeded to the rescue. In the meantime, CSWR immediately initiated a mayday relay broadcast requesting vessels in the vicinity to proceed to the stricken vessel and render assistance.

“The response to the broadcast was immediate and a total of 24 merchant ships called SAMSA’s CSWR offering their assistance, some were as close as 80 miles from the scene and others as far off as 600 miles.

“Six ships closest to the stricken ANTAIOS were diverted by the MRCC to the position in case the NSU INSPIRE needed help in rescuing the crew.

“Happily, by 20h39 MRCC was informed by the captain of the NSU INSPIRE that his ship had arrived on-scene and had commenced recovering the ANTAIOS crew from the two lifeboats they had escaped to. All 19 crew members were plucked to safety on board the giant 330 meter ore carrier and are currently on the way to be dropped off in Cape Town from where they will be repatriated,” SAMSA said.

SAMSA also confirmed that a local shipping agency had since been appointed by the stricken vessel owners to take care of the crew once they arrive in Cape Town. The crew is expected in Cape Town and about midnight on Monday.

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