Transfer of oil from mv Smart begins

by Hans | August 29th, 2013

The transfer of 1700 tons of heavy fuel oil and 130 tons of diesel from the shipwrecked bulker SMART (151,279-dwt, built 1996) got underway yesterday following the arrival of the necessary equipment including heavyweight pumps and a barge that was towed up from Durban.

A Mil Mi-8MTV heavylift helicopter which is assisting with the salvage work on board the Smart. Picture courtesy Gerard Griessel

With everything in place and expectations of relatively calm weather, the salvage team from Subtech Salvage were hoping to achieve a pump rate of between 30 and 40 tons an hour, which could mean four days to clear the ship of all fuels if pumping operations take place only in daylight.

The bulker went aground and broke her back last Monday as she was leaving the port of Richards Bay, laden with a full cargo of 148,000 tons of coal intended for China. It appears that her engines failed at the critical moment as the ship left the safety provided by the Richards Bay south breakwater and entered into 10 metre swells.

With no propulsion power available and a strong wind blowing off the sea, the giant ship was washed onto a sandbank adjacent to the harbour entrance and opposite the town’s main swimming beach. Once on the bank the ship’s back broke almost immediately, with the hull twisting to a 90° angle leaving the stern, with the engine compartment and accommodation block, suspended in the air.

The Durban-based Subtech tug TERAS HYDRA (486-gt, built 2009) which is in attendance at the casualty site. Picture by Gary Grenfell

Coal from at least one hold has spilled into the sea and efforts are being made to prevent pollution washing up on the Zululand coast and into its river mouths. This includes the entrance to the Richards Bay harbour. A boom has been laid surrounding the stricken ship.

Source: Ports & Ships Maritime News

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