Eyewitness view of South Coast drama

Jan 4, 2003
Author: P&S

Eyewitness view of South Coast drama

Additional information about the near grounding of the Brazilian oil and dry bulk (OBO) ship Inville has come to hand. The 121,232DWT ship was observed on New Year’s Eve without power and drifting towards the shore near Bazley, south of Durban.

According to the local resident who witnessed the incident, the ship appeared to lose power opposite Mtwalume, which lies a little further south from Bazley. The ship then drifted northwards on the counter current until the anchor took on a well-known reef used by ski boat fishermen.

There was only a single tug in attendance, the Smit Salvage vessel Wolraad Woltemade, which was despatched to the scene to render assistance by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). A SAMSA spokesman said there was very little co-operation by the Inville crew whom he described as “less than honest about the situation.”

During the night the sea remained calm with light winds. Shortly before dark a helicopter arrived on the scene and transferred personnel on board, presumably the surveyor and police guard requested by SAMSA. Overnight the situation remained unchanged, with Inville lying at anchor off the coast while the tug circled the vessel very slowly.

At 6am on New Year’s Day the helicopter returned to the scene bringing either supplies or additional personnel. A line was secured between the tug and the OBO vessel shortly afterwards and the tow northwards towards Durban commenced.

On arrival off Durban port officials declined to allow the ship to enter port on account of Inville having no power and being over limits in terms of width (45m). Arrangements to take the ship to Richards Bay were then made.

Our eyewitness reporter says the incident remained the cause of much speculation among residents and holidaymakers throughout New Year’s Eve and early the following morning, and a flotilla of paddle skis was on hand to see off the two ships that were the cause of such excitement during an otherwise quiet holiday period.

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