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Discussion Starter #1
Press release from

The container ship Safmarine Agulhas is still aground off the East London harbour, said National Port Authority spokesperson Terry Taylor on Tuesday.

"There's no change. She's still aground about 50m off the breakwall," said Taylor.

He said the ship was apparently aground on sand.

"We're awaiting a salvage crew from Cape Town which will work with our harbour craft.

"They will go aboard by helicopter and assess the situation."

The Agulhas ran aground shortly after leaving harbour about 6.30pm on Monday night, about two hours after high tide. The ship lost power and ran aground off the harbour's western breakwall.

She was on her way to Durban.

East London harbour tugs tried to pull her off but the line snapped and the tugs could not get close enough again due to heavy swells of up to 5m, said Taylor.

"They tried on numerous occasions after that but there were huge sea conditions."

The crew of 22 are still aboard the Agulhas. "They're all fine."

High tide is at about 4pm and salvors may wait until then to make another attempt to pull the ship free.


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #3

Press release from

Salvors have attached cables to the Safmarine Agulhas which ran aground off the East London harbour and are trying to pull it free, the National Port Authority (NPA) said on Thursday morning.

"They're attempting at the moment. All the cables have been secured. They've three tugs attached at this stage," said NPA East London spokesperson Terry Taylor.

They were using the huge salvage tug the Smit Amandla, which arrived on Wednesday afternoon from Cape Town, and the two East London harbour tugs Umthwalume and Impunzi.

"They started connecting cables early this morning," said Taylor.

'The weather's favourable'
"The weather's favourable, it's a fairly calm day."

The salvage team had started preparing to pull the container ship free on Wednesday but had to postpone until the morning.

The 16 800-ton Agulhas is grounded on sand off the harbour's western breakwater. It ran into difficulty on Monday night when it lost power after leaving harbour.

She is carrying 662 tonnes of heavy fuel, 88 tonnes of diesel and 37 tonnes of lubrication oils.

Taylor said the ship was still in good condition.

"It's fine, there's still no indication of any oil spill, it's still in the salvors' favour."

If the morning attempt did not free the ship, the salvors would try again on the evening high tide, he said.


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Further moved a bit..!

From IOL -

The stranded Safmarine Agulhas moved a few metres in a salvage attempt at high tide on Thursday afternoon, said the National Ports Authority (NPA).

"We have had limited success," said NPA East London spokesperson Terry Taylor.

Two tugs attached to the bow and stern of the 16 800 ton container ship would keep a steady line overnight.

This meant there would still be a pull on the Agulhas and it was possible the vessel could move off the sandbank overnight, said Taylor.

He emphasised that cir***stances were changing all the time.

The Agulhas lost power after leaving harbour on Monday night and became grounded on sand off the harbour breakwater.

The water had been calm, with hardly any of the swell salvors had been hoping for to help the vessel move on Thursday afternoon.

"Unfortunately that didn't happen," said Taylor.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) tug, Impunzi, was attached to the bow of the Agulhas and the Samsa tug, Smit Amandla, to the stern.

It was decided a third tug would be more of a hindrance than a help.

They would "give a full effort again" at high tide at 6.25am on Friday.

"We'll wait and see what progresses overnight. The next high tide is a good opportunity."

Taylor said there was no pollution so far and the vessel remained structurally sound.

The Agulhas was carrying 662 metric tons of fuel oil, 88 metric tons of marine diesel and 37 metric tons of lube oils.

The operation was "quite something" to see, he said, explaining that any salvage attempt was delicate.

"There are so many things that can go wrong and planning changes constantly".

Everyone in the team involved in the attempt to refloat the Agulhas was confident it would work, he said.

However, if they did not succeed by Friday, they would go to the next plan which was to commence with the offloading of the cargo on board.

Owned by FA Vinnen and Company of Germany, the Agulhas is on charter to Safmarine Container Lines and is deployed between Europe and South Africa. There are 469 loaded and 112 empty containers on board


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Further update

From the website "Dispatch" -

Race against bad weather to save ship

THE RACE IS ON: Trucks run a shuttle service carting away the containers being lifted by crane off the stricken vessel. Agulhas’s holds are flooding as a cold front threatens heavy swells

SALVORS are racing against time to save the grounded 17000 Safmarine Agulhas from a watery grave.

A predicted cold front approaching from the south, accompanied by gale-force winds and swells of over five metres over the next few days could seriously hamper round the clock salvage operations off the East London harbour wall.

Yesterday, for the first time, the salvage team voiced concern about the vessel’s structural integrity, 11 days after she ran aground on the breakwater after losing engine power while exiting the port for Durban.

“The grounding forces acting on the vessel, combined with the effect of the continuous action of the sea on the Agulhas in its exposed location, is beginning to have a detrimental effect on the vessel’s structural integrity,” said a spokesperson for the Joint Operations Committee.

“There is water ingress in two cargo holds and the engine room. The structural integrity of the vessel is under constant observation and, should it deteriorate any further, future refloating attempts may have to be delayed in order to ensure that the fuel and cargo removal operations are completed.”

Last night, bilge pumps were coping with the flooding but National Ports Authority spokesperson Terry Taylor admitted that the approaching bad weather was a concern for the salvage team.

“But the best possible people are on the job ... everything humanly possible will be done to meet the challenges over the next few days.”

Taylor added that, while weather permitted, discharging of container cargo and heavy fuel oil was given priority. But “safety of personnel is paramount …. operations will stop immediately it becomes too dangerous to continue”.

South African Maritime Safety Association principle officer Captain Peter Kroon said contingency plans were in place to handle any potential oil spill.

These preparations included stationing specialist oil abatement vessels, the Kuswag lV and the Victoria Mxenge, close to the Agulhas. Both vessels are carrying dispersing chemicals.

An aircraft was also on hand to monitor the situation from the air.

Up to last night no signs of a spill had been spotted, but ashore the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism also had a specialist team on standby.

By last night 175 of the 277 containers Agulhas was carrying on her deck had been brought ashore. The ship was carrying a total of 469 loaded and 112 empty containers.

Discharging the vessel’s 660 tons of heavy oil fuel was progressing slowly with about 230 tons removed by late yesterday.


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Further update....

From the "Dispatch" again...

Deck containers, most of fuel are off Agulhas

EXACTLY a fortnight after running aground on the East London harbour wall, all of the deck container cargo aboard the stricken Safmarine Agulhas had been brought ashore by last night.

National Ports Authority (NPA) spokesperson Terry Taylor yesterday said salvors had also been successful in discharging 550 of the 660 tons of heavy fuel oil and most of the 88 tons of diesel from the tanks of the grounded vessel.

With 277 containers safely ashore, salvors were expected to begin discharging cargo from the ship’s four holds from this morning.

“A total of 277 containers are off ... the ship was carrying 469 loaded and 112 containers when she went aground.

This means that there are still 304 containers aboard the vessel,” Taylor said, adding that it had been established that 17 of these were in No 1 hold.

“And this is where the work will begin (this) morning ... Hopefully, if the weather plays along, hold No 1, a dry hold, will be cleared by tonight.

“Hold No 4 is also a dry hold so that is where the focus will shift once No 1 is cleared,” Taylor said, adding that holds No 3 and 4, as well as the engine-room, remained flooded.

“We are not quite sure exactly how the containers are distributed in holds two, three and four ...

“Working these holds – especially the flooded ones – will be tricky and safety precautions will be pretty strict,” the NPA spokesperson said, adding that only once the ship had been cleared of all cargo and fuels, would “the next step of further refloating attempts be considered”.


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Continuing update...

From IOL press release -

All cargo containers stacked in two of the four holds of the stricken Safmarine Agulhas off the coast of East London were removed on Tuesday, salvors said.

SMIT Salvage spokesperson Clare Gomes said good progress had been made in the past 24 hours, and all deck cargo had also been removed.

She said the next focus would be removing cargo from the last two holds, which had been reported to be partially flooded.

The other focus of the operation was fuel removal. A total of 580 tons of heavy fuel oil has been removed to date, of an original 677 tons.

The Agulhas had 277 containers on deck and another 304 in holds. Gomes could not say exactly how many containers had been removed from below deck.

The structure of the vessel was being constantly monitored, as it was placed under undue stress from grounding forces and exposure to the continuous action of the sea.

"Ships are designed to float and it is under undue stress which it is not designed for."

The 16 800-ton Safmarine Agulhas ran aground on July 26 when she lost power after leaving harbour. Attempts to pull her free before offloading failed.

"Should there be any further deterioration, future refloating attempts may be delayed," said Gomes.

Gomes did not want to elaborate on what the options were once the cargo was removed. She said the salvors' primary objectives were to protect the marine environment, save the cargo and attempt to refloat the vessel.

She said once all the cargo had been removed further assessments would be made.

The ship started leaking last week. Two of the four holds and the engine room are flooded. Salvors are offloading from the dry holds first.

"In terms of the environment, we've done extremely well, there's no oil spill," said National Ports Authority spokesperson Terry Taylor earlier.

He said Tuesday's weather was "perfect".

The cargo is the responsibility of Safmarine, which charters the Agulhas.

"The salvaged containers are being stored in East London. After survey and salvaged cargo release procedures, the cargo will be released for onward shipment in accordance with the cargo owners' instructions," said Safmarine spokesperson Debbie Owen from Cape Town.

She said it was "too early to tell" whether any of the cargo was damaged.

"The cargo removal is a matter for the salvors and decision then rests with cargo owners following survey and release procedures." -

PS - Excellent photo of her in the gallery


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
...and more..!

Press release from - "Dispatch" -

SALVORS working to free the stricken 17000-ton Safmarine Agulhas from her precarious perch on the East London harbour sea wall, favour using the same strategy the company employed when it successfully refloated the 133-metre-long container ship Umfolozi in the Walvis Bay harbour last year.

Smit Salvage successfully raised the Umfolozi from where the vessel sank alongside a Walvis Bay harbour quay after colliding with the dredger Ingwenya as she was leaving port for Cape Town.

Much of the success of the operation was ascribed to the fact that the salvors first cleared the Umfolozi totally of all cargo and fuel oils and lubricants before it was refloated.

The salvors’ idea of using the same approach in attempting to pull the grounded Safmarine Agulhas off the western breakwater has found support among the members of the joint operation committee (JOC), which is overseeing the Agulhas exercise.

All major roleplayers including the ship’s owners, operators, insurance, the National Ports Authority (NPA), South African Maritime Safety Association and Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism have representation on the JOC.

NPA spokesperson Terry Taylor yesterday said salvors had spent the better part of the past 48 hours preparing to raise the remaining 199 oil-polluted containers, still in flooded holds No 2 and 3, onto the ship’s deck. “Once on deck they will be drained, thoroughly cleaned with special detergents being brought ashore and moved to the port’s dedicated container terminal on the East Bank,” Taylor said.

Everyone involved in the operation is hoping that weather and sea conditions remain favourable to allow all cargo and fuels to be discharged successfully, which would minimise any pollution threats when the next attempt to refloat the 184m-long Agulhas takes place, the NPA spokesperson concluded.


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Not looking good....

From "Dispatch" -

SALVORS, fearing that the stricken Safmarine Agulhas lodged just metres off East London harbour’s breakwater could break up, are racing to remove cargo still on board.

“If she breaks up all those containers will spew out to sea creating a huge navigational risk,” warned National Ports Authority spokesperson Terry Taylor last night.

While weather conditions had eased up after high drama on the ship in bad weather on Friday night, forecasters predicted more inclement weather was on its way and likely to hit the region tonight.

On Friday, crew members had to be plucked off the ship in the dark by a crane after the rope-bridge linking the German-owned vessel to the breakwater snapped in heavy seas.

Taylor said the 16800-ton ship had been “bouncing around and taking a pounding”, and there were fears for the safety of the crew.

Some of the crew had managed to disembark using the rope bridge, but after it snapped the rest had to be taken off by the huge crane brought down from Gauteng especially for the salvage operation.

While the weather had eased up considerably on Saturday and the crew and salvors were again on board, Taylor confirmed that the prospects of re-floating the vessel were looking increasingly bleak.

The ship, which sails under a Liberian flag, floundered as it was leaving the city’s harbour about three weeks ago.

While he would not speculate on the extent of damage to the vessel until its holds are empty, Taylor said Friday’s rough conditions had taken a toll on the beleaguered vessel.

The setback had also ruled out the possibility of re-floating her during the current spring high-tide which ends towards the end of this week.

Taylor said 191 containers still needed to be off-loaded – and this would take more than a month at the current rate.

“Everything possible is now being done to expedite the process of getting all the cargo off, we do not want to see it break up,” said Taylor.

By 5pm yesterday, eight containers had been brought to shore since Saturday but the process was painstaking and dangerous as they were in the hold which was filled with swirling water, with oil-slicks from the engines.

Taylor said after locating each container, expert salvage divers attached ropes to them before hauling them up on deck. Once there they had to be steam-cleaned to prevent the water around the ship from being contaminated, and then hoisted to shore by the massive crane.

In addition to the containers, 20 tons of fuel need to be brought to shore. A separate team is removing oil from the water surface in the engine-room and transporting it to shore.

Taylor said the team was making slow progress but would work into the night.

Meanwhile, the salvage tug Smit Amandla is keeping a constant tension on a tow-line attached to the ship to prevent it from being washed closer to the breakwater.

Taylor said the salvage team’s painstaking effort to clean every container on deck had resulted in minimal pollution but was slowing the operation down.

An NSRI spokesperson confirmed that there was no oil spillage from the vessel.

Taylor said the salvors had not specified the cost of the operation so far but it was safe to say it had already cost millions of rands.

Today the salvagers may start cleaning the containers on the breakwater in order to speed up their work.

Despite reports of fish being seen in the engine-room Taylor denied reports that the crew had been fishing in there. He stressed the extreme danger of the ship’s precarious position.

“There is a large wash and extreme movement, so we can be sure there is no recreational activity going on in the holds.”


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Smit's view

From the Smit website -

’Safmarine Agulhas’ _ update

Cape Town, 17 July 2006, 17h30

The container ship ‘Safmarine Agulhas’ has been aground for 21 days off of the Western Breakwater, Port of East London. The vessel ran aground on Monday 26th June after suffering engine failure shortly after she exited the port en route to Durban. Several refloating attempts utilising harbour tugs and the tug ‘Smit Amandla’ did not achieve success and the vessel remained firmly aground. Subject to grounding forces and the continuous powerful action of the sea, the deterioration of the vessel’s structural integrity remains cause for concern and is being assessed and monitored by the onboard salvage team.

Following a fuel removal operation that has seen some 720 tonnes of heavy fuel oil being removed from the ‘Safmarine Agulhas’ in the last 17 days, today light oily sheen was reported to be emanating from the vessel, as spotted by the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism’s (DEAT) patrol aircraft Kuswag VIII. The patch of sheen was spotted moving away from the coast in a southerly direction and the oil pollution abatement vessel ‘Kuswag IV’ is on the scene and working to great effect to assist in breaking up the light sheen. The situation with respect to sheen emanating from the vessel is being constantly monitored and the DEAT’s patrol aircraft is stationed in East London and overflying the casualty daily. A team of experts from DEAT has been stationed in East London since the vessel ran aground and oil spill abatement equipment is on site and will be utilised if necessary. The team is conducting daily beach patrols to monitor any impact on the environment. With the vast majority of the heavy fuel oil off of the vessel, the risk that the ‘Safmarine Agulhas’ now poses to the marine environment has been significantly reduced.

All parties are working together to expedite the completion of the fuel removal operation and the cargo removal operation. Of the 747 tonnes of heavy fuel oil onboard the vessel when she ran aground, all but 20 tonnes remain unaccounted for. The salvage team continues efforts to skim heavy fuel oil from the engine room and holds in which water ingress has been reported. All deck cargo as well as containers located in two of the vessel’s four holds have been removed and the salvage team is now focussing on removing the remaining 199 containers from the cargo holds open to the water. By this evening 24 of these containers had been removed from the ‘Safmarine Agulhas’’. Should the vessel’s structural integrity deteriorate, a decision will be made as to whether any future refloating attempts will be possible. The tug ‘Smit Amandla’ remains connected to the ‘Safmarine Agulhas’ and is holding her off of the breakwater.

Adverse weather conditions on Friday 14th July resulted in Master, Officers and Crew of the grounded container ship ‘Safmarine Agulhas’ as well as the salvage team from SMIT Salvage being evacuated from the ship as it became more lively due to its lightened condition and the high swells. Operations onboard the vessel were suspended overnight and by Saturday morning the salvage team and ship’s crew were back onboard and the cargo removal and fuel removal operation continued in improved conditions.


1,389 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Poor old girl....


Salvors will continue off-loading containers from the Safmarine Agulhas on Wednesday, stranded at the East London harbour, the National Ports Authority said.

"The vessel is stable, there are no oil spills into the sea," spokesperson Terry Taylor said.

He said once all the container were off-loaded, the salvors, owners and the insurers would have to decide on the next step after assessing the damage.

The 16 800-ton Safmarine Agulhas ran aground shortly after its engines failed, while leaving the East London port on June 28.

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