Crew of stricken Taiwanese trawler rescued off the Indian Ocean. Warning issued about floating unmanned vessel

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One of two liferafts filled with crew members of a Taiwanese fishing trawler, the Hsiang Fuh No.6 who were rescued at sea in the Indian Ocean after abandoning their vessel  reportedly following a fire breakout on board on Sunday.The 30 crew members are currently on their way to Durban, South Africa

Pretoria: 11 July 2017

Ocean traffic to the east of South Africa on the Indian Ocean north east of Durban has been warned to be on watch for a stranded fishing trawler floating aimlessly, unmanned, after its crew abandoned it following to a fire breakout on board on Sunday.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Tuesday confirmed that it had coordinated a rescue effort for the 30 crew members of the Taiwanese fishing trawler named as the Hsiang Fuh No. 6, after it had abandoned the vessel reportedly due to fire on board.

According to the website, marinetraffic.com, the Hsiang Fuh No. 6 is a 21 year old fishing trawler, measuring 45.65 meters in length and 8.3m in breadth, with a deadweight of some 489 tons.

In a statement on Tuesday, SAMSA reported that the fishing trawler’s crew, some with slight burns, had been successfully rescued and would be arriving in Durban some time on Tuesday (11 July, 2017).

According to SAMSA, the organization’s Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town was notified that a container ship, the Ever Diadem, had spotted the Hsiang Fuh No. 6, on fire, and its crew were abandoning ship on two life rafts; about 736 kilometers East-North-East from Durban and some 496 kilometers from the closest shore.

1The rescue coordinating centre requested the Ever Diadem to recover the survivors, with an additional urgent request (MAYDAY) message relayed also to other vessels in the vicinity to assist in the rescue.

Bulk carriers, the Hampton Bay and SBI Antares, responded and the SBI Antares eventually assisted with the rescue.

“All the survivors were picked up – 16 crew by the Ever Diadem and 14 by the SBI Antares. Both vessels are proceeding to Durban to disembark the survivors.

“The survivors, mostly Philippine, Indonesian, Taiwanese and Vietnam nationals are fine with some reported to have suffered burn injuries. The necessary arrangements for the safe delivery and repatriation of the sailors were made and they will be met by representatives of their countries on arrival in Durban.

“MRCC is currently engaged in efforts to evacuate one of the crew that suffered burns from the Ever Diadem, 60 km off Durban. The air medical evacuation shall be done with the assistance of a South African Air Force and NetCare Paramedics,” said SAMSA in a statement.

SAMSA said its surveyors and investigators would meet the survivors on their arrival

The organization further commended  efforts of the Masters and crew of the Ever Diadem and SBI Antares for the valiant effort in saving the lives of the crew of the fishing vessel.

Meanwhile, SAMSA issued a warning to all seagoing traffic in that part of the Indian Ocean to be on the lookout for the stranded fishing trawler.

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Engine damaged vessel successfully rescued, docked in East London Friday.

BBC Shanghai: An Update

Pretoria: 17 March 2017

BBC_SHANGHAI PIC

A Antiqua Barbuda registered vessel that suffered engine trouble and risked running aground off the eastern coast of South Africa near Mbhashe on Wednesday evening has been successfully rescued and docked at the port of East London early on Friday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed.

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For illustration only. One of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) tugs – this one, the Qunu, located at the port of Port Elizabeth.

Captain Daron Burgess, technical manager for SAMSA’s southern region in Port Elizabeth said a Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) tug, SHASA; hooked up with the vessel shortly after 20h00 lon Thursday night off Mbashe Point and towed it to the port of East London. “They arrived at East London port at 05h30 this morning,” he said.

The successful rescue followed a dramatic and tense 56 hours after the vessel – a 4 900 tonne general cargo ship named BBC Shanghai, registered in Antiqua Barbuda – reported being in trouble with its engines while sailing off the Indian Ocean about a few hundred nautical miles south of Port St Johns towards East London in the Eastern Cape.

At the time,  the vessel’s position was at 21h48LT , 22.8NM east of Mbashe Point, south of Port St Johns. The BBC Shangai was believed to be travelling from Durban to Lagos in Nigeria. It had left the port of Durban on Monday and was scheduled for Lagos on or about 28 March.

After receiving a distress call, the Cape Town based SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center (MRCC) immediately mobilized support and rescue for the stricken vessels, while efforts were also made to ensure  safety of its crew and cargo – the latter, to guard against possible spillages that would lead to ocean environmental degradation.

The situation remained under firm control on Friday while the vessel on tow of the TNPA tug, berthed at the port of East London.

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Rescue efforts scrambled for stricken vessel off Port St Johns

BREAKING STORY (1.05am)

Pretoria: 16 March 2017

Rescue efforts have been launched by the  South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA ) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) to assist retrieve a foreign vessel that was reportedly in distress off the eastern coast of South Africa near Port St Johns on Wednesday evening.

According to Captain Daron Burgess, technical manager for SAMSA’s southern region in Port Elizabeth, the vessel – a 4 900 tonne general cargo ship named BBC Shanghai, registered in Antiqua Barbuda –  reported being in trouble with its engines while sailing off the Indian Ocean about a few hundred nautical miles south of Port St Johns towards East London in the Eastern Cape.

The estimated position of the BBC Shanghai as of late Wednesday night. (Illustration adopted from marinetraffic.com)

Its exact position at the time, according to the MRCC in Cape Town was at 21h48LT , 22.8NM east of Mbashe Point, south of Port St Johns.  According to vessels tracking site, marinetraffic.com the BBC Shanghai was travelling from Durban headed for Lagos in Nigeria. It had left the port of Durban on Monday and was scheduled for Lagos on or about 28 March.

At midnight on Wednesday, Capt Burgess said while the MRCC kept the vessel’s situation under a close watch, rescue efforts were being coordinated between services in Port Elizabeth and East London to mobilize a set of tugs towards the vessel.

Another location point illustration from the SAMSA MRCC

Capt Burgess reported the vessels as afloat and adrift and the rescue efforts were to first try and prevent it from running aground, keeping the safety of the crew and pollution of the environment in mind. He confirmed that SAMSA was also in the process of establishing the vessel’s type of cargo in order to try and secure it from possibly polluting the ocean should the situation deteriorate.

He confirmed that SAMSA was also in the process of establishing the vessel’s type of cargo in order to try and secure it from possibly polluting the ocean should the situation deteriorate.

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Fire-ravaged Liberian flagged cargo vessel at port of Ngqurha in mop up phase: SAMSA

Pretoria: 16 February 2017

Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqrurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.
Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.

With the fire that raged for days on board the APL Austria docked at the port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth now effectively extinguished, the vessel’s rescue has entered a mop-up phase during which debris and contaminated water filling up some of its cargo holds will be dispersed with, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported overnight. 

“The good news is that the fire on board is completely extinguished and port operations continued as per normal (with) two additional large container ships docking at the port today (Wednesday) where for a while no ships were allowed into the port while the APL AUSTRIA was on fire” said Captain Daron Burgess, SAMSA’s technical manager for the Southern Region.

Some of the charred remains of containers being removed from the fire ravaged cargo vessel APL Austria docked at the port of Ngqura

According to Capt. Burgess the mop-up involves removal of damaged containers and containment of their content. The teams will also drain out approximately 3000 cubic meters (three thousand) of water, ash and residue inside of No.4 cargo hold of the vessel – a disposal that will be preceded by a scientific analysis of the water to determine its toxicity and related pollutants to the environment prior to dumping.

“The plan is that if the water contains no marine pollutants, then it will be transferred into ballast water tanks on board. However, if containing marine pollutants, we will have to re-assess the situation and most probably will have to discharge ashore in approved receptacles and to be disposed of according to DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) requirements,’ said Capt. Burgess.

Meanwhile, he said; two (2) fire experts had already begun inspecting the vessel to try and establish what caused the fire that ensued on Sunday afternoon while the APL Austria was sailing westward in the Indian Ocean alongside the South African coast towards the Cape Peninsula.

According to SAMSA’s Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, the Liberia flagged cargo vessel was approximately 30 nautical miles south west of Jeffreys Bay – some 50-70 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth – when it raised an alarm about the fire on board at about 5pm.

A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.
A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.

The MRCC redirected the 72 000 ton, 280m wide vessel back to the port of Port Elizabeth overnight and later had it dock at the port of Ngqura by Monday where rescue operations both on board, on the ground as well as on water, got fully activated; with the vessel’s crew having been successfully evacuated.

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Last night, Capt. Burgess said initial inspection indicated that there was not much damage caused to the vessel itself by the fire. “No visual structural damages to No.4 cargo hold at this stage,’ he said adding that there were still about 16 containers remaining on board (ROB) on deck on top of No.4 hatch – two of which appeared to contain rice (25kg bags) and smoldering. “The plan is to discharge (these) ashore tomorrow and douse with water and de-stuff into skips – no immediate danger,” he said.

“There are also about 10 containers aft of accommodation (not at all related to fire) to discharge to accommodate replenishment of CO2-Room with 400 x 45kgs CO2 cylinders. The area is presently covered by these containers as it is situated aft of the accommodation and underdeck,” he said.

Centre aft pontoon of No.4 cargo hatch which opened up after an explosion on board. An investigation into the cause of the fire is now formally underway according to SAMSA

For continued maintenance of a safe working environment and to prevent any possible pollution of the seawater around the vessel, containment booms would stay deployed while overflows of contaminated water off the vessel would be sampled for analysis.

“All parties are satisfied with the progress of operation,” said Capt. Burgess.

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Blaze on board Liberian flagged vessel in Port Elizabeth contained: Monitoring continues

Pretoria: 14 February 2017

The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of
The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of

A fire that broke out on a giant Liberian flagged container vessel, the APL Austria while sailing west off the eastern ocean of South Africa on Sunday has been contained, but its situation is still being closely monitored, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported on Tuesday.

The 71 867 tons, 280 meter-wide container carrier on which fire broke out in one of its cargo holds on Sunday afternoon while sailing 30 nautical miles south-west of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth – had to be diverted back to the port of Ngqurha on Sunday night in order for rescue operations including firefighting to be conducted.

With the crew evacuated – an operation overseen by the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town, throughout Sunday night, Monday and early Tuesday, firefighters both on board and outside the vessel, inclusive of tugs from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) battled the fire, while efforts were made to remove some of the cargo on board to safety.

A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.
A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.

On Tuesday afternoon, SAMSA Centre for Shipping Executive Head, Captain Nigel Campbell reported that the battle against the blaze was being won progressively.

“It appears that the fire in the hold has been extinguished but the space has not been deemed safe to enter as yet. There are still smouldering containers on deck which are being fought by the fire brigade, a harbour tug is providing boundary cooling. Containers with hazardous cargo are being removed from the area around the fire,” said Captain Campbell.

He added that: “The Joint Operations Committee sits shortly to monitor progress against the plan.”

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Firefighters battle blaze on board Liberian flagged vessel in Port Elizabeth!

The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of
The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of shipspotting.com)

Pretoria: 13 February 2017

The cause of a major blaze on board the APL Austria, a Liberian flagged cargo vessel now docked at Ngqura harbour, some 30km east of Port Elizabeth, may take time to determine; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said on Monday as firefighters continued to battle the blaze earlier in the day.

According to Captain Daron Burgess, a Principal Officer for SAMSA’s Southern region; rescue services were set in motion on Sunday afternoon, at approximately 5.49pm, after the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) located in Cape Town was alerted of a fire on board the container vessel.

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At the time, according to Capt Burgess, the vessel was 30 nautical miles South-West of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth.

He said when alerting the MRCC, the crew of the vessel had been of the impression that the fire was on the vessel’s “No.3 cargo hold” only to be later established as having broke out in its “No.4 cargo hold”.

The APL Austria built in 2007 is about 280 meters in length overall,  with a beam of about 40m and a gross tonnage of about  71 867 tons and a deadweight of some 72 807t.

“The vessel was instructed to proceed to Algoa Bay anchorage and she arrived at the anchorage area at 02h00 this morning, Monday 13 February 2017. There are several containers containing hazardous cargo on deck above No.4 cargo hold, but fortunately none of them were on fire,” said Capt Burgess.

According to Capt Burgess, relevant senior officials of the port of Ngqurha, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and SAMSA boarded the vessel from about 4am on Monday for an assessment of its conditions while firefighters, inclusive of three TNPA harbour tugs assisted with the firefighting operation by providing boundary cooling.

“Lots of black smoke was emanating from the vessel. The weather conditions have been favourable since the incident occurred, with a light South-Easterly wind. The vessel heaved anchor at about O5hOO this morning and was instructed to proceed further out in the bay to clear the other vessels at the anchorage area. The tugs continued with boundary cooling during the morning hours; during the night the vessel used their on board fire extinguishing media.

“After the fire was relatively under control, arrangements were made to take the vessel into the Port of Ngqura with the Metro Fire Fighters on standby and to deal with the situation upon arrival alongside. The vessel entered the Port of Ngqura at approximately 10h00 this morning. It is not yet clear at this stage what caused the fire. An investigation will be undertaken once the fire is extinguished to try and establish the cause of the fire,” reported Capt Burgess.

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