24 June 2005

Tugs gather around grounded ship for salvage attempt

Like vultures hovering around a fresh kill (or should that be like tow-vehicles gathering at the scene of a roadside accident), three additional tugs are on standby to assist with salvage attempts on the stranded logger Kiperousa.

The 25,375-dwt bulk ship, en route from West Africa to Asia with a load of logs, went aground off the Eastern Cape coast southwest of East London on 7 June after hitting a submerged object, believed to be a reef.

The vessel was sailing close inshore at the time to take advantage of the inshore counter-current and on a heading for Durban where Kiperousa was to take bunkers before heading out across the Indian Ocean.

Although the Tsavliris salvage tug Nicolay Chiker has been awarded the contract to pull the ship clear of the reef on which it is now grounded, all attempts have so far failed. While waiting for this week’s spring tides (the best tide is today, Thursday) several other tugs have arrived to give assistance if required. They include the Durban-based Pentow Service, which went to the scene immediately the call for assistance went out on 8 June, and the Smit Dudula tug Smit Amandla (former John Ross).

Smit Amandla has been successful in pulling a number of wrecks clear of the South African coastline in recent years, whereas Nicolay Chiker, although more powerful has had few jobs in South African waters.

Another tug to arrive from Durban is the service and salvage tug Toto which has been employed to transfer bunker fuel from the stricken Kiperousa ashore at East London. This has been successfully completed.

Yesterday was expected to be the "make or break" attempt – should refloating efforts fail with the high tide then the chances of Kiperousa becoming yet another permanent fixture along the Southern African coast will be that much higher.

Source: www.ports.co.za


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