An urgent alert warning has been issued to vessels sailing on the Indian Ocean east of South Africa to be on the lookout for cargo containers that reportedly fell off a trade cargo container ship, some 22 nautical miles off the coast of Durban a week ago.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which has launched an investigation into the matter, the loss of more than a dozen cargo containers by an MSC vessel occurred on Tuesday, 07 August 2018, while sailing between Port Elizabeth and Durban.
SAMSA said on Monday that a total 13 containers were reportedly lost overboard by the MSC CHLOE at about 11.30pm on Tuesday night a week ago while it was sailing the Indian Ocean in position Latitude 30 degrees 02.65 ‘ South, Longitude 031 degrees 25.9 ‘ East – corresponding to about 21.6 nautical miles ESE of Durban harbour in 550 metres of water depth.
“The vessel was on a voyage from Coega (Ngqurha port in Port Elizabeth) to Durban. Reportedly the vessel was drifting and awaiting berthing instructions when a huge swell struck and caused the vessel to roll about +/- 30 degrees on either side, thereby leading to the containers falling off their stacked position.
“A navigational warning is being broadcasted by the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) Cape Town and transiting vessels in and around the area are requested to keep a sharp lookout and to report to MRCC Cape Town and Durban Port Control of any sighting,” said SAMSA in a statement.
Giving more detail on the type of containers and nature of cargo they contained during the incident, SAMSA said: “The containers lost overboard have been identified as 11 x 40 ft. (HC) , 1 x 40 ft. (Open Top) and 1x 40 ft. ( with citrus fruit) and another 25 CTU on board have sustained damage.
“The vessel’s owners, MSC has confirmed the contents of the containers as general cargo ranging from cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, machinery shafts and agricultural supplies. No lost container contained any IMDG (dangerous) cargo or Marine Pollutants.”
SAMSA said it also verified that “declared IMDG containers (dangerous goods containers) as per vessel’s stowage plan were on board in their respective positions.”
SAMSA further said it has launched an investigation into the incident since the vessel berthed at the port of Durban on Thursday.
Investigations into the cause of the fire that broke out on board a Liberian cargo vessel, the APL Austria, while sailing off the Indian Ocean along South Africa a few weeks ago continue in Port Elizabeth, with authorities indicating that it may be a while before they find answers.
According to the Captain Daron Burgess, a Principal Officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) southern region office in Port Elizabeth, the suspected cause of the fire currently is possibly a chemical known as a “calcium hypochlorite” that was found stowed under deck in No.4 cargo hold.
Wikipedia describes calcium hypochlorite as a chemical “commonly used to sanitize public swimming pools and disinfect drinking water. Calcium hypochlorite is also used in kitchens to disinfect surfaces and equipment. Other common uses include bathroom cleansers, household disinfectant sprays, algaecides, herbicides, and laundry detergents.”
Apparently according to Capt. Burgess, the presence of the chemical on board the vessel was somewhat mysterious as the vessel’s crew was “unaware of it as it was not declared as such.” Capt. Burgess stressed in statement on Tuesday however that: “The final report by fire experts has not been released yet and so we cannot confirm the cause.”
The APL Austria – a 72 000 ton, 280m wide cargo vessel – had been some 30 nautical miles south west of Jeffreys Bay – about 50-70 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth – when it reported a fire on board at about 5pm on Sunday, 12 February 2017. Shortly thereafter with rescue operations scrambled, it was then redirected overnight back to Port Elizabeth and eventually to its current docking location at the port of Ngqurha following to which its crew was evacuated while firefighters battled the blaze
On Tuesday this week, reporting on the continuing mop up operation on board the vessel Capt. Burgess said: “All damaged containers have been discharged from the vessel and the No.4 cargo hold is now empty and being mopped up. All empty CO2 cylinders (45kg x 444) have been replenished and placed back on board. ”
He said high pressure hose cleaning began on Tuesday and was expected to be completed on Wednesday afternoon after which investigators hoped to have a full view of the damage to the vessel.
According to Capt. Burgess repairs to damage caused by the fire on board the vessel was unlikely to be conducted at the Ngqurha port. “The vessel has had SA repair companies attend to inspect damage and to give quotes for seen damage to ship and hatch covers.” He said it was likely the vessel might set sail again to elsewhere sometime next week.
Four cargo vessels now in the country’s register, with about a dozen more due for registration in the next few months!
Port Elizabeth: 14 July 2016
South Africa’s drive to expand growth and economic opportunity in the country’s maritime economic sector is steadily gaining pace with one campaign of the broad Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) strategy – the local registration of trade cargo shipping vessels under the country’s flag, gaining ground.
This became evident in Port Elizabeth this week when on Wednesday afternoon, the fourth so far of an estimated dozen international cargo vessels due for registration, had raised and held aloft at its stern for the first time, South Africa’s flag for its identity.
The MT Lefkas, a bunker (ship fuelling) vessel, is owned by Greek shipping fleet group, Aegean; and will be officially stationed at the port of Port Elizabeth, to supply fuel at sea to vessels sailing along Africa’s southern oceans.
For Aegean, the registration in South Africa of the R200-million worth bunkering vessel measuring some 102.5 meters, with a gross tonnage of 4580; is a kick-off to a medium to long term investment in the country involving a capital layout of about R1.6-billion, and which will involve two more vessels; according to regional manager Mr Kosta Argyros.
He said the MT Lefkas, with a capacity of some 6.8-million litres of oil, will effectively be the runner between the Aegean’s other bigger tanker station offshore along the Eastern Cape coast and passing fleets requiring fuel supplies.
According to Mr Argyros, the positioning of the Greek’s bunkering services vessels in the Eastern Cape coastal area is based also on projections of significant growth in oceans based cargo which, he said, would see an increase of as many as 300 trade vessels in the region in the near future.
However, for South Africa’s broader economy, the addition of the vessel to the country’s steadily yet progressively growing stock of locally registered cargo vessels – now numbering four since September 2015 – will expand opportunities for a whole range of ocean economy businesses, but also critically, provide berths for the training of seafarers.
Mr Argyros confirmed: “The registration of the “MT Lefkas” and other vessels that will follow is significant towards the employment of the South African seafarers. Every vessel has extra accommodation that allows for the training and development of cadets.
“The registration of the vessel is not restricted to the bunkering operation only but also introduces many economic benefits for the people of Port Elizabeth such as surveying, offshore services and crew changes” he said.
According to Mr Argyros, these and a whole range of additional business opportunities could generate as much as R5-million for Port Elizabeth’s local economy in a given time period and in the process, create more additional employment opportunities for the local communities, thereby spreading the income benefit.
Port of Port Elizabeth Manager, Mr. Rajesh Dana added: “The Port of Port Elizabeth is proud and honoured to be the registered home port for the Aegean vessel, MT LEFKAS. We congratulate Aegean for the registration of the vessel on the South African flag and look forward to the opportunities that this will present to Nelson Mandela Bay and South Africa.
“This historic event is significant to the Port of Port Elizabeth and South Africa at large as it marks the catalytic growth in the South African Ship Registry and once again highlights Nelson Mandela Bay’s attractiveness as a Maritime City and its potential to exploit the Blue Oceans Economy,” he said.
(For Mr Dana’s remarks, Click Below)…..
With the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) charged by Government with responsibility for developing and expanding the country’s stock of locally registered vessels carrying the country’s flag, the organization’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi was on hand on Wednesday to witness and welcome the hoisting of the South Africa flag on the Greek owned vessel at the port of Port Elizabeth
Mr Sobantu said the positioning of the Aegean vessel in Port Elizabeth was with meeting a number of socio economic objectives among which was to strategically expand the location of fuel resources placement in the country, and which up to now, had been largely (66%) confined to the port of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Mr Tilayi, flanked by the Mayor of Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay metro), Dr Danny Jordaan and port of Port Elizabeth manager Mr Rajesh Dana, said the development and operationalization of the Ngqurha deep water port also in Port Elizabeth had opened up opportunity for expansion of transshipment of not only South African goods, but that of the whole of southern Africa.
“This helps reposition this whole (Eastern Cape) region to become an important transshipment hub for the entire southern African region.
He added: “Port Elizabeth has a very big potential as a services port for a whole range of maritime economic activities, including cruise (leisure) vessels because of its strategic positioning geographically but also because of the geolocation of the two ports which among other things, enjoy significant protection from weather and ocean currents related conditions,” he said.
(For Mr Tilayi:s full remarks, Click Below)
Also welcoming the Aegean business operation’s location in Port Elizabeth, Dr Jordaan said the development was an indication of the progressive achievement of the objectives of the country’s Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) initiative launched in 2014, and which he said, placed the Eastern Cape coastal city central to efforts to rejuvenate the country’s maritime economic sector.
Dr Jordaan echoed words of encouragement to especially local business to take advantage of emerging opportunities linked to investment such as that of the Greek shipping company now based in the city.
(For Dr Jordaan’s video clip, please Click Here)
And for the formal flagging of the Aegean owned bunkering services vessel, the MT Lefkas, Click Here)