13 July 2005

Kiperousa salvage back on track

Efforts to refloat the bulk carrier Kiperousa, which went aground off the Eastern Cape coast south of East London on 7 June, were renewed at the weekend with the arrival from Uganda of a giant Russian Mi26 Halo helicopter.

Salvage company Tsavliris charted the heavylift helicopter from its base in Uganda where it is employed in the logging business. This followed the failure of previous attempts to lighten the ship from the sea because of heavy swells.

The Mi26 helicopter, which can lift loads up to 20 tons is one of two based in Africa with the capability of lifting the cargo of heavy West African logs from the ship in the allotted time – each of the 8,000 logs weigh an estimated three to five tons. About 300 logs have already been removed from the decks of the ship and placed ashore from where they will be transported by road to East London.

The salvage tug Nicolay Chiker is remaining on station but the supply tug Toto, which assisted with the removal of about 30 tonnes of fuel oil has returned to Durban. The coast watch oil dispersant vessel Kuswag I is on standby in East London harbour.

Salvors hope to take advantage of next week’s spring high tides by which time the ship should be considerably lighter and better able to lift off the reef or sand on which it is embedded.

Kiperousa struck a reef on 7 June while on a voyage from West Africa to Durban and then the Far East. The ship began taking water in the engine room and lost all power before drifting ashore close to the small Eastern Cape coastal village of Hamburg. The crew of 24 were all safely lifted off by helicopters and taken to East London.

Source: www.ports.co.za


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