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’.
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 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.”