UPDATE: Capsized fishing vessel salvaged and returning on tow to Cape Town

Photo Supplied

Pretoria: 30 June 2022

The recovery of a fishing vessel whose 12 member crew was rescued on Sunday this past weekend after it capsized while out at sea near Cape Point, continues, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The rescued crew was safely returned to shore following to which a salvage operation to recover the vessel, named Restless Wave, was launched.

According to SAMSA, during the early hours of the morning on 26 June 2022 the pelagic fishing vessel Restless Wave capsized while located approximately four (4) Nautical Miles off the Cape of Good Hope.

Photo Supplied

There were 12 survivors recovered and they were landed safely in Hout Bay at 08h00 the same day. No injuries or fatalities were reported and the vessel owners working with salvors set out to recover the vessel and fishing gear.

On Thursday morning, SAMSA said the vessel was being towed to Cape Town Harbour and was expected to be in the Table Bay anchorage around noon. “SAMSA continues to monitor the operation,”said the agency in a statement

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South Africa’s stevedores back in business, applauds resumption of supportive SAMSA periodic safety meetings and workshops!

Cape Town: 20 June 2022

Stevedoring business at South Africa’s coastal areas, mainly the country’s commercial ports, has warmly welcomed the resumption of periodic safety meetings and workshops conducted for their businesses by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).  The gatherings bring together the stevedoring companies, Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

This emerged strongly at the third and biggest of these meetings conducted so far this year by SAMSA at the TNPA House at the port of Cape Town a week ago – these being the first in quarterly series since being interrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-10 pandemic in South Africa in February 2020.

The meetings are primarily for safety issues. However, the practitioners in the subsector feel comfortable to bring industry development related issues to the forum.

SAMSA manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe leading a stevedore business safety meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday, 16 June 2022

According to SAMSA manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, the stevedoring business meetings, now in their 12th year; are held among the main stakeholders with a view to periodically share both general information of good business practices in that specific maritime economy subsector, developments relating to applicable legislation governing both the conduct of stevedoring business, as well as matters concerning the maintenance of good health and safety standards.

Stevedoring essentially involves the loading and off-loading of goods from cargo vessels, as break bulk and containers as well as the conduct of business related thereto.

Generally, says Mr Rantsoabe, as many as 30 registered and licensed companies are responsible for stevedoring at the country’s ports: – from Richards Bay and Durban in the east, East London, Ngqurha, Port Elizabeth in the south, and Cape Town and Saldanha Bay in the west coastline.

In terms of applicable legislation, from a SAMSA perspective, the National Merchant Shipping Act, 1951 is primary; providing for codes of practices and regulations that govern matters of occupational health and safety and cargo handling on board vessels.

It is on the basis of this legislation and codes and regulations that SAMSA also conducts regular inspections as well as audits in the subsector at the country’s ports and stevedore premises, this deriving from its legislated mandate for ensuring the safety of life and property at sea.

Representatives of stevedore businesses at the ports of Cape Town and Saldanha gathered in Cape Town for this year’s first SAMSA stevedore safety meeting.

In Cape Town on Wednesday last week, no less than 14 of these companies were represented at the first Stevedoring Safety Meeting since 2020 and the enthusiasm in the meeting room was palpable.

This was particularly apt given what was described by many as a most torrid time the stevedoring business in the country encountered during the major national lockdowns brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research findings shared by SAMSA at the Cape Town meeting indicated that while the majority (about 95%) of the stevedoring businesses were sparred the spate of Covid-10 pandemic deaths among their employees, however; close on half incurred either a ‘bit more’ or a ‘lot more’ business running costs compared with the pre-pandemic outbreak period.

It also emerged that during the periodically disrupted operations, stevedores were not provided with adequate Personal Protective Equipment, in addition to other associated challenges that included a lack of occupational safety inspections before the beginning of shifts, lack of supervision in instances where foremen and supervisors were not found on board vessels, signallers working without signalling equipment or found not in their correct positions during cargo operations.

However, with Covid-19 pandemic restrictions having slowly been lifted nationally over the past year, and goods shipment worldwide beginning to pick again, the stevedoring business is now almost fully back at work.

At the conclusion of the Cape Town Stevedore Business Safety Meeting, this blog spoke to Mr Whaleed Diedericks, a business owner of Pebblehouse Stevedoring at the port of Cape Town, to solicit his views on the significance and importance of these SAMSA conducted stevedore subsector meetings and workshops. To view, click on the 6 minutes video below.

Mr Whaleed Diedericks, a stevedore business owner at the port of Cape Town sharing his perspective of SAMSA Stevedore Safety Meetings now back on track after a two year absence due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020

Meanwhile, Mr Rantsoabe also took time to outline broadly the developments in the stevedore business from a SAMSA perspective, explaining why the meetings and workshops are pivotal to the success, sustainability as well as growth and expansion of this maritime economy business subsector: To view, click on the video below:

A brief interview with Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Maritime Welfare, outlining briefly the significance and importance of the country’s stevedore business focused periodic safety meetings and workshops resumed in 2021 after a break of two years due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

End.

Bunkering back in business in Algoa Bay as oil spill clean-up comes to an end: SAMSA

Bunkering services back in business in Algoa Bay, announces oil spill incident management authorities (SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 14 June 2022

The clean up of an oil spill recently in Algoa Bay on South Africa’s eastern (Indian Ocean) seaboard has formally been concluded, with bunkering services (ship-to-ship fuel transfers) back in business, authorities responsible for the incident management – among them being the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – announced in Pretoria on Monday.

“The oil spill clean-up in Algoa Bay has concluded and the incident has been closed and response and monitoring will return to normal status,” read a statement issued jointly by SAMSA, the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

This came almost a week after the lifting of a suspension imposed on bunkering services in the ocean space area following to an incident of an oil spill between two vessels belonging to the same bunkering services company while transferring oil between them on Monday, 23 May 2022.

According to the oil spill incident management authorities, the cause of the oil spill is still being investigated.

Meanwhile, they said: “The conclusion (of the clean-up) follows days of monitoring of the St Croix Island group by the SANPARKS rangers following an oil spill on Monday, 23 May 2022. The last monitoring exercise was done on Thursday, 09 June 2022 and there were no oiled birds reported. The beaches that form part of the Addo Marine Reserve have also been inspected with no reports of oil or oiled wildlife.

“Both vessels have been cleaned and returned to service. A debrief has been concluded with the responders to assess how the response can be improved in the future. An investigation into the course of the spillage is ongoing by the Authorities.”

End

South Africa’s Interim IMOrg on a week-long multi-national incident management training exercise in Cape Town

Cape Town: 09 May 2022

South Africa’s active state of readiness for incidents management on especially its maritime environment remains critical to its ability to react positively, effectively and efficiently to both natural and man-made disasters, inclusive of oil spillages at sea according Captain Vernon Keller, deputy Chief Operations Officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Capt. Keller shared the view while addressing just over 50 delegates and officials at the start of a five days, in-person Incident Management System (IMS) training in Durbanville near Cape Town on Monday morning.

Captain Vernon Keller. Deputy Chief Operations Officer: SAMSA

The Interim IMOrg is a joint industry-government and nongovenrmental institutions’ emergency response national structure established to contribute towards preparedness of the country with effective and efficience management of maritime incidents such as oil spills offshore.

Its specific objective involves the staging of joint emergency response drills to prepare the country for a variety of incidents and uses the Incident Management System (IMS) as its preferred response model “for effective and efficient use and deployment of the available resources, both human and equipment, for all types of incidents including marine pollution.”

Code-named: Operation Bank Cormorant, – after a now rare, endangered species of a bird endemic in Namibia and the western coast of South Africa – the training underway in Cape Town this week, sponsored by the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) and conducted by Vulcin Training with support from various specialist companies in incident management, began on Monday and will run until Friday (13 May 2022).

The first three days comprises a desktop training of delegates covering the IMS 100, 200 and 300 modules, to be followed over two days (Thursday and Friday) by a live full scale oil response deployment exercise scheduled to take place a few kilometers offshore, off the port of Cape Town.

The training and full scale real time exercise will be the first of its kind since before the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019.

In his remarks marking the official start of the five days training, Capt. Keller thanked delegates on behalf of the Interim IMOrg, for “taking interest and participating in the training and deployment exercise, as it provides an opportunity for South Africa to build capacity necessary to effectively respond in cases of incidents and disasters and the IMOrg’s efforts to institutionalise the IMS response model.

He said: “To have an effective response, it is critical that the responders are fully trained and certified competent on the Incident Management System. Additionally, it becomes important that the country mobilise resources and conduct exercises to assess its response in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.”

For his full remarks, Click on the video below (duration: +-5mnts)

Described as equally significant about this year’s Interim IMOrg IMS training and exercise is the involvement of the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) – a multi-national and multi-sectoral organisation established by South Africa, Angola, and Namibia for the promotion of a coordinated approach to long-term conservation, protection, rehabilitation, enhancement, as well as sustainable use of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem.

Ms Tembisa Sineke. Benguela Current Convention (BCC) South Africa National Projects Officer

BCC’s South Africa National Project Officer, Ms Tembisa Sineke described the multi-national structure’s direct involvement in the IMS training and exercise in Cape Town this week as highly significant to the extent it provided opportunity also for direct involvement and participation of incident management officials also from Namibia and Angola.

According to Ms Sineke, in her address of the delegates, it was necessary and appropriate that the three countries who are partners in the BCC should expand their areas of cooperation and collaboration to include especially training on incidents management, as such incidents on occurrence, generally impact all of them in varying degrees.

For her full remarks, click on the video below.

End

SAMSA CFO takes charge of agency as interim CEO: SAMSA Board announces

Pretoria: 02 April 2022

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Financial Officer, Ms Zamachonco Chonco has been appointed the agency’s interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), pending the finalisation of the process for appointment of a permanent CEO, SAMSA’s Board of Directors announced in Pretoria on Friday.

In a statement, SAMSA said Ms Chonco would take over with immediate effect from outgoing acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, a chief director in the maritime directorate at the Department of Transport, who had been at the helm for just over a year.

SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Zamachonco Chonco as its interim Chief Executive Officer. She replaces Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashilaone who has been in the position for the past 13 months.

“Ms. Chonco is currently SAMSA’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). She will lead the organisation while the process of appointing a permanent CEO is being finalised. Ms. Chonco is a qualified Chartered Accountant with vast experience in both private and public sectors within the finance, investment, risk management and audit areas.

“She has served with distinction as the Acting CFO at the South African Postbank before joining SAMSA. She has also held various senior positions in finance at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Auditor General of South Africa.

“Since joining SAMSA, Ms. Chonco has been pivotal in supporting the agency achieve its first unqualified audit for the 2020/2021 financial year in more than four years,” said SAMSA

The agency further pointed out that Ms Taoana-Mashiloane will return to her position as the Department of Transport’s Chief Director for Maritime Industry Development.

“The SAMSA board thanked Ms. Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane for her valuable contribution in turning around SAMSA’s audit record and deepening the relationship between the Board and executive team while in the role as Acting CEO,” said SAMSA in the statement.

End.

Bunkering services moratorium re-imposed: SAMSA

Pretoria: 01 pril 2022

A moratorium on the issuing of bunkering licences in the Algoa region of South Africa and due to come to an end on 01 April 2022 has been reimposed, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced in Pretoria on Friday.

In a brief media statement on Friday, SAMSA described the u-turn on the earlier lifting of moratorium as based on outcomes of inter-departmental consultations. Consequently, said SAMSA, a Marine Notice on an interim application process and requirements to conduct ship to ship transfers and bunkering operations outside of a port is being retracted.

Said SAMSA: “The moratorium on the issuing of Bunkering licences in Algoa bay will not be lifted on the 1st of April 2022 as previously announced. The lifting of the moratorium was suspended following inter-departmental consultations.

“The moratorium was placed on 22 August 2019 pending the finalisation of the Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) Risk Assessment Study for Algoa Bay.

“Following the suspension of the lifting of the moratorium the Marine Notice (MN 1 of 2022) on the interim application process and requirements to conduct STS or Ship to Ship transfers and Bunkering operations outside of a port will be retracted.

“The application window for Bunkering licences for Algoa Bay will be extended until the finalisation of the Risk assessment Study.

“The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused by this suspension and will continue to work with stakeholders in the bunkering space to reach a satisfactory conclusion.”

End

Min requirements for small vessels in OPL supply launches in South African coastal waters kick in: SAMSA

Pretoria: 08 March 2022

Vessels with a gross registered tonnage (GRT) of less than 25 operating along South Africa’s coastline for Off Port Limits (OPL) services providers will have six (6) months from 03 March 2022 to subject themselves to a formal vessel survey by the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the agency has announced.

Similarly, vessels of under 25 GRT currently under construction and designated for OPL services within the same South African oceans territorial space will have a grace period of six (6) months to comply with newly published requirements contained in a Marine Notice (MN 03-22 (S+P) released on Thursday last week, said SAMSA.

The Marine Notice in question, obtainable freely from the agency’s website, according to SAMSA; intends to give guidance and standardise the requirements for OPL launches along the South African coast by providing an overview of the requirements of design, construction, operation and manning of Off Port Limit (OPL) launch vessels of less than 25 GRT (Small Vessels).”

A small vessel under construction. (SAMSA File Photo)

Citing the Merchant Shipping National Small Vessels Safety Regulations 2007, and specifically regulations 6.1 (a to c) and 14 (1) and (2) (a), the SAMSA Marine Notice states that vessels of the category serving as OPL launches “…must be constructed of suitable material of good quality..(and whereby its design)  must provide a sufficient reserve of positive stability to prevent capsizing when carrying a heavy load….”

These also provide for manning requirements that include that owners of such vessels “…must ensure that the vessel is operated by or under the constant guidance of a skipper who is physically able and of sound mental health…” along with other bare minimum necessities such as requisite training evidenced by a Certificate of Competence issued by a certified authority.

In this regard, in terms of the Marine Notice, the general requirement effective 30 days from publication of the Marine Notice last week would be that:

  1. An OPL launch shall always be manned by a qualified Skipper and a minimum of two (2) competent crew members. A competent crewmember shall be a person that has completed induction and SAMSA recommends that the crewmember is also the holder of a Personal Survival Training and Able Seafarer Deck course certificate of attendance.
  2. Records of safety drills (as per the requirements of the MS NSVR 2007 as amended), including the recovery of a Man Overboard shall be readily available for inspection.
  3. The duties of each crewmember shall be clearly defined and displayed on board

The Marine Notice further outlines minimum manning requirements for varied services inclusive of medical incidents where a helicopter is not used, OPL with laden tankers, crew and cargo transfers, marine pollutants (as regulated by the Marine Pollution [Control and Civil Liability Act 6 of 1981), and related matters.

The Marine Notice is obtainable from the SAMSA website.

End

Two to three more weeks to clear problematic chemical cargo off vessel in South Africa’s west coast: SAMSA

The NS Qingdao pictured after anchoring at the port of Saldanha on the Atlantic Ocean seaboard a few weeks ago. (Photo: Supplied)

Pretoria: 07 March 2022

It may be another two to three more weeks before troublesome chemical cargo is fully offloaded from the NS Qingdao vessel, currently docked at the port of Saldanha on South Africa west coast, said the South African Maritime Safety Authority late Friday.

This would be about six months since the Marshal Islands registered commercial cargo vessel first set anchor at the country’s ports only to prove a major headache after its cargo of a chemical product reacted to rain water at its first attempt to offload in Durban last October, thereby setting in motion one of the most intense, delicate and time consuming unstable cargo containment exercises ever undertaken by authorities in recent times.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, SAMSA confirmed the vessel was still at anchor in Saldanha Bay for the continued discharge of its waste cargo.

“The vessel will be alongside a berth again on or about Sunday 6th March to continue operations. Operations are proceeding in a safe and well-coordinated manner and good progress has been made,” said SAMSA

The agency added that: “As of the 1st  of March 2022, approximately half of the cargo in cargo hold No.3 had been discharged and disposed at Vissershok High Hazardous Waste Management Site. Wastewater will also be pumped into tanks and sent for disposal at the same waste management site.

“It is anticipated that once the vessel is alongside a berth that it would take approximate 2 to 3 weeks to discharge the remaining waste cargo from the ship and dispose it at Vissershok. The vessel will then be inspected by SAMSA and its classification society to ensure she is safe to continue her voyage to Brazil to discharge remaining cargo onboard.

According to SAMSA, the agency and the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) have reached agreement with the vessel’s owners and P&I Club “to implement a medium to long term environmental monitoring program so that any potential immediate and future impacts can be assessed and mitigated. 

“The P&I Club’s appointed environmental specialists in collaboration with DFFE are continuously monitoring the coast and sea area to determine any threats to the marine environment resulting from the emergency disposal of cargo dumped approximately 250 km offshore. To date, satellite imaging shows no immediate indications of harmful effects to the receiving environment or marine life.

“The Marshall Islands Flag State Investigation team have (also) started their investigation and it is expected to continue over the next few months until the root cause can be established. As part of the co-operation agreement, SAMSA is sharing the available information with the vessels flag. It is expected that the detailed investigation will take an estimated 12 months to complete and that the final report will be shared with SAMSA,”said SAMSA

The agency also expressed its gratitude to all people it has worked closely with to date in managing the vessel.

“SAMSA would like to thank the salvage team onboard, who at great peril to themselves, said SAMSA, “risked everything to successfully bring this emergency situation under control where normal cargo operations could continue. The support from all the person involved in managing this emergency since it started in Durban in October 2021 has been very good, despite the difficult choices that had to be made over the last 6 months by the Authorities.

“The vessel owner continues to co-operate with all authorities and have covered all expenses to date regarding this salvage operation,” said SAMSA.

End

Moratorium on bunkering licences’ applications lifted: SAMSA

SAMSA File Photo

Pretoria: 31 January 2022

Current and aspirant bunkering services providers keen to obtain an operating licence in Algoa Bay, South Africa may now go ahead and apply, as the moratorium on applications will be lifted effective 01 April 2022, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The agency in a statement in Pretoria on Monday further said while the lifting of the moratorium on bunkering licences application would be effective only on 01 April 2022, the filing of applications is open from Tuesday this week, 01 February 2022.

The statement said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is pleased to announce that the moratorium on the awarding of bunkering licences in Algoa Bay will be lifted as of the 1st of April 2022 with applications being accepted from the 1st of February 2022.

“The moratorium was placed on 22 August 2019 pending the finalisation of a Holding Capacity and Risk Assessment Study. The lifting follows the last seating of the Bunkering Stakeholder session held in December 2021 that resolved that the moratorium should be lifted.The lifting means that new potential entrants can now submit their applications with effect from 1 February 2022.

“An application package that clearly outlines the application process and all related requirements will be uploaded on the SAMSA website www.samsa.org.zaby 1st of February 2022.

“Only online applications will be accepted via the bunkers@samsa.org.za email address. All stakeholders that sent their applications in the past should reapply via the online system. The online application process is a transitional arrangement pending the finalisation of the Bunker/ Ship to Ship (STS) codes.

“Interested stakeholders are encouraged to read the Marine Notice (MN 1 of 2022) on the interim the application process and requirements to conduct STS or Ship to Ship transfers and Bunkering operations outside of a port in conjunction with the current Bunker Codes as the codes will ultimately takes precedence over any other documentation. 

“In addition, a special Bunkering Stakeholders session will be convened on the 7th of February 2022 at 10h00 to address the application package and any clarity seeking questions,” read the statement.

SAMSA Acting CEO: Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane

Commenting on this latest development on bunkering services in South Africa, SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane said the new online application process was an effort to streamline the processes in the bunkering sector and to ensure that the whole process was fair, just and transparent.

Expressing a word of gratitute to all stakeholders for their patience during the moratorium, she said: “We are confident that the reopening of the Bunkering Sector will bring much needed economic spin offs and relief to the region and country as a whole.”   

End

Salvage of vessel with unstable chemical cargo off South Africa’s west coast reaches final stage: SAMSA

Pretoria: 28 January 2022

The salvage of a vessel with unstable chemical cargo, the bulk carrier NS Qingdao; off South Africa’s west coast, is reaching a critical final stage, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

This is contained in a statement issued by SAMSA in Pretora on Friday morning. In the statement the agency says the volatility of the chemical cargo – inclusive of an out of control fire in a cargo hold – is being successfully contained so far, this following the off-loading and dumping of some of the cargo at sea recently.

As a result, the 190×32 meters, Marshall Islands flagged bulk carrier is being brought into the port of Saldanha Bay for further offloading and final disposal of the rest of the cargo at an inland hazardous waste management site located at Visserhok.

According to a Western Cape government website, the site is “one of three operational (Cape Town) landfill sites… located close to Table View and exists for the disposal of general and low to medium hazardous waste which cannot be reused or recycled.”

In Pretoria on Friday, SAMSA said due to this latest development, “the emergency (of the cargo vessel situation) has now been downscaled from a ‘severe maritime emergency’ to a salvage operation that can be safely managed in port.”

According to SAMSA, the bulk carrier, is drifting currently off the port of Saldanha Bay, waiting for a berth.

Said SAMSA in the statement: “The bulk carrier, NS Qingdao, will be brought into the port of Saldanha Bay after the chemical decomposition and fire in cargo hold No.3 was brought under control. The emergency has now been downscaled from a Severe Maritime Emergency to a salvage operation that can be safely managed in port. The vessel is drifting off the port of Saldanha Bay, waiting for a berth.

“This decision was taken by the competent authorities after DFFE and SAMSA representatives conducted a vessel inspection offshore to determine whether it was safe to do so and reviewing reports from the chemical and fire specialists onboard.

“Transnet National Port Authority will provide a berth for the vessel and is comfortable that it safe for the vessel to enter the port.”

“The Joint Operations Committee (JOC) comprises of National, Provincial government officials and includes local municipal representatives. The JOC members have been actively involved in managing this maritime emergency since the vessel was evacuated from the port of Durban.

“Salvage experts have been working around the clock to contain and extinguish the fire onboard the vessel for the past three (3) months. Attempts to extinguish the fire by discharging the reactive cargo via skips offshore and dispose of the cargo at the High Hazardous Vissershok waste management site was hampered by the location of the affected cargo within the cargo hold.

“The vessel was escorted offshore by an Emergency Towing Vessel in early December after the fire unexpectedly re-ignited, causing a large volume of toxic fumes to be released and enter the engine room resulting in the evacuation of the engine room.

“Due to the fast deteriorating conditions onboard and to save the ship and people onboard, the JOC decided to conduct an emergency dump of the absolute bare minimum of reactive cargo 250km offshore in 3000m of water in order to bring the situation under control as fast as possible.

“The DFFE issued an emergency permit as prescribed by Chapter 8, Section 71 (1) (a), of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) and the Dumping at Sea Regulations, after consulting with the Oceans and Coasts research branch, Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“GESAMP is a group of independent scientific experts that provides advice to the UN system on scientific aspects of marine environmental protection and consists out of up to 20 experts, over 500 scientists from at least 50 countries. This organisation provides authoritative, independent, interdisciplinary scientific advice to organisations and governments to support the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment.

“The GESAMP mechanism functions under the auspices of ten UN Organizations, all with substantial maritime and ocean interests and potentially overlapping responsibilities.

“Approximately 1300T of cargo was dumped offshore which enabled the situation to be brought back under control. The JOC can confirm that the operation was monitored through onboard drones and DFFE satellite imaging and can confirm that no immediate environmental damage was observed. 

“The hot cargo cooled rapidly and dissolved very quickly in the ocean. Although no immediate environmental damage was noticed, SAMSA and the DFFE are in discussions with the vessel owner and insurers to arrange a medium to long term environmental monitoring program so that any potential future outfall can be managed responsibly as fast as possible.

“The vessel was anchored off St. Helena Bay for the last two (2) weeks to allow the authorities to monitor the cargo and establish whether it was safe to enter port.

“The affected portion of the chemical cargo will be discharged in port by the Salvors and chemical waste specialists. The chemical waste will be taken to the approved High Hazardous Waste Management site at Vissershok until such time that it is safe for stevedores to manage the cargo discharge operation.

“As an interested state, SAMSA concluded an investigation cooperation agreement with the Marshall Islands Maritime Authorities. The cause of the incident is still under investigation and a chemical analysis of the cargo will be completed while the vessel is in port to determine the underlying casual factors for the fire and whether the vessel had any undeclared cargo in the hold.

“The vessel owner, master and P&I Club is cooperating with the Authorities, ” read the SAMSA statement.

End.