10 June 2005

Stricken carrier to be pulled out to sea

Oil has begun to leak from the stranded bulk carrier Kiperousa at the Bira River mouth near East London. Now an attempt is to be made to pull the ship off the rocks at high tide, about 4pm on Thursday.

As the wind shifted, increasing the chances of fuel oil from the ship blowing on to the coast, pollution controls were put in place by the South African Maritime Safety Authority.

The deep sea salvage tug Nikolai Chiker arrived in the area overnight. It was hoped that the mighty Russian-owned tug would be able to pull the bulk carrier off the rocks to deeper water, said Terry Taylor, spokesperson for the Port of East London.

The Maltese-flagged Kiperousa ran aground on Tuesday morning after drifting without power because of a flooded engine room.

The 256 000-ton deadweight ship was carrying expensive tropical hardwood logs from West Africa to East London and the Far East.

Taylor said there had been very bad weather, with a 45-knot wind and five-metre swells overnight.

"Fortunately the wind was offshore so the oil was blown out to sea," he added.

The oil was spotted on the surface of the ocean during an overflight by helicopter on Wednesday.

Taylor said the salvage crew had returned to the ship on Thursday morning and would prepare for the tow.

"But the wind has changed and there is a threat that oil from the ship could come ashore.

"The South African Maritime Safety Authority has put anti-pollution measures in place," he said, adding that if the attempt to pull the Kiperousa off the coast failed today (Thursday), plans would be made to remove her fuel oils by pumping it to other vessels.

Source: www.iol.co.za


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