Sealand Express latest

Aug 27, 2003
Author: P&S

The salvage master in charge of operations to refloat the stranded container ship Sealand Express told a press conference yesterday he was not confident about refloating the ship. “The odds, quite frankly, are that she’s not going to come off.”

Captain Dave Main was referring to the next attempt to refloat the 257m long vessel, which has been grounded in Table Bay since Tuesday last week. He said another effort will be made beginning on Friday night with the high spring tide, with a 48-hour window of opportunity.

Ahead of this the dredger Ham 316 has begun removing the sandbar alongside the ship’s port shoulder, and improving the draft under the ship, which lies in a 6m deep gully. Sealand Express requires about 10m to come clear.

According to reports if efforts to refloat the ship prove unsuccessful the salvors may build a causeway from the beach on which to take a crane to help discharge the containers on board the ship. In the meantime a helicopter with a 5-tonne payload was due to arrive in Cape Town today to assist with removing some of the low-risk hazardous cargo in the containers. These will be unloaded on deck and airlifted off in small parcels.

Residents of houses in the area opposite the stricken ship have been issued with permits with which to access their homes. This was after authorities suddenly clamped down on public access to the immediate area, preventing people from accessing the beach.

At the same time rumours and reports have begun to surface of highly toxic or secret material on board the ship that requires the presence of US officials from an unnamed agency. The only information revealed about the ship’s manifest is that Sealand Express is carrying uranium ore for processing in the USA as well as various other chemicals and compounds normal to a ship’s cargo manifest.

Operations to remove fuel oil recommenced today and by 10.00 this morning an additional 1,400 tonnes had been removed, bringing the total removed so far to 2,800 tonnes, with a further 700 tonnes of heavy fuel remaining on board. These operations were continuing.

At the same time stress monitors fitted to the vessel’s hull indicate that her condition remains in a sound condition.

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