Efforts to transfer oil from the bulk carrier CAPE AFRICA
off the coast of South Africa have taken on an international aspect.
A Dutch tug, SMIT AMANDLA and Russion tug NIKOLAI CHIKER are working
with the South African vessels KUSWAG IV, SA AGHULAS and UMALUSI.
The plan is to transfer 1,900 tons of bunkers
from the holed bulk carrier to one or more of these vessels.
The hole - 20 metres by five metres - is
in the port side of number three hold and is believed to
have occurred in a storm. Bad weather hampered the oil
transfer operation early on, the Russian tug getting a rope
wrapped around its port propeller and having to return to
Cape Town to have it removed. The oil was eventually
removed and the vessel towed into False Bay, South
Africa. A ‘keep out’ zone has been established around
the vessel to keep observers at a safe distance during the operations.
The 150,000- ton CAPE AFRICA was built in 199? and
is registered in Taiwan. The master and crew were flown
off the ship on 28 April and the ship was ordered to
remain at least 120 miles west of Cape Town to prevent
any oil washing ashore in South Africa.
A 26 X 11 X 1.5 metre steel cofferdam was constructed
with the intention of placing it over the hole and welding it
in place. It would serve as a cover over the hole and
provide structural strength for the vessel to complete its
permanent repairs. Attempts to place the structure over
the hole were hampered by the swell, which caused the
cofferdam to swing as the water sloshed into and out of
the hole. The cofferdam punched a 20 X 20cm hole in
No 2 double bottom tank after breaking cables and chains
holding it in place. The cofferdam was dropped to the
seabed to prevent further damage being caused.
The plan now is to remove 80,000 tons of iron ore and
take the vessel into port for temporary repairs.
A second cofferdam is being constructed for repairs to No 4 hold
where frames have been tripped and plates indented.
One press photo of the bow of the CAPE AFRICA
shows water draining down the hawse pipe, the sea level
in the photo being just at the crown of the anchor. The
caption reads, ‘Water pours from a huge hole in the hull
of the bulk carrier Cape Africa.’ The article refers to
structural damage in hold number three.
Where are the nautical advisors to the media?