Good progress in ‘Sealand Express’ refloating attempt

Sep 13, 2003
Author: P&S

Salvors made good progress in pivoting the grounded container ship Sealand Express further seawards and moving her approximately 270 metres out to sea on this morning’s high tide. The dredger will recommence dredging in the immediate vicinity so as to increase the water depth until early afternoon, when the refloating operation will recommence as the afternoon high tide approaches.

The salvage tug John Ross’s tow wire parted shortly after 05.00 this morning and she is undergoing repairs in the port of Cape Town but will be reconnected in the early afternoon in preparation for the next attempt. The Pacific Worker and Pacific Brigand remain connected to the Sealand Express.

The hazardous cargo removal operation with respect to the grounded container ship Sealand Express was halted on Wednesday as the casualty become “lively” on the afternoon high tide. The contents of 12 of the 33 containers classed as hazardous have been unpacked and their contents safely airlifted to the secure reception facility in the port by the powerful Mi8 helicopter.

All of the pumpable heavy fuel oil (3518 tonnes) was removed by the salvage team from the container ship, leaving approximately 108 tonnes of heavy fuel oil in the settling and service tanks and approximately 80 tonnes of unpumpable heavy fuel oil onboard. 205 tonnes of diesel (gasoil) remains on board for use by the ship’s generators and main engines.

When the Sealand Express is refloated she will be towed west of Robben Island where her towing connections will be reconfigured and various inspections undertaken, prior to her being brought into the Port of Cape Town.

The Joint Operations Committee is chaired by Captain Bill Dernier of the South African Maritime Safety Authority and includes representatives from SAMSA, U.S. Ship Management Inc, Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, SMIT Salvage South Africa, Maersk Sealand, SANCCOB, Blaauwberg Municipality, Cape Metropolitan Council, Provincial Disaster Management, Local Government, Western Cape Nature Conservation, SAPS, Robben Island Museum, National Nuclear Regulator, NUFCOR and National Ports Authority, amongst others.

The Sealand Express is a USA flagged container ship owned by U.S. Ship Management, Inc and was built in 1980. She has a length of 257m and is 30 metres wide. Smit Salvage South Africa was awarded a Lloyds Open Form salvage contract with respect to the grounded container vessel. The 32,926 DWT Sealand Express ran aground at 06h55, 200 metres off Sunset Beach, north of the Port of Cape Town on Tuesday 19th August in severe weather and wave conditions during a Cape winter’s storm. The vessel was en route to Cape Town from Durban and Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

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