Container ship Sealand Express goes aground off Cape Town

Aug 19, 2003
Author: P&S

The Maersk container ship Sealand Express (32,926-dwt) went aground at Sunset Beach near Milnerton, Cape Town at approximately 07.30 this morning (Tuesday 19 August 2003) after dragging her anchor during heavy seas.

Two harbour tugs and a third tug contracted by South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) went immediately to assist the ship, which was 20 minutes sailing distance from the Cape Town port. By the time they arrived however the US-flagged Sealand Expressí bows had already gone aground onto sand.

A successful attempt was made to secure a towing cable to the ship to hold her off from further grounding, but this failed after the cable snapped. Sealand Express then went firmly onto sand where heavy seas have begun walloping the vessel.

Within two hours a salvage team from Smit Pentow, under contract to SAMSA had gone on board the vessel to assist with securing her ahead of further attempts to pull the ship clear. Two salvage tugs, Pacific Worker and Pacific Brigand are in attendance.

The tide was on its way out during the morning and further attempts to pull the ship clear will probably be delayed until high tide alter today. However the area has been hit by one of the Cape of Stormís worst storms, with strong gale force winds, high seas and snow falling overnight on Table Mountain

The crew of Sealand Express are reported to be safe and in no danger, with helicopters a few minutes away if needed for evacuation.

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