Sealand Express dredger damaged

Sep 6, 2003
Author: P&S

The dredger on duty at the Sealand Express grounding site in Table Bay, Ham 316, has sustained rudder damage which has put on a temporary hold any further dredging operations until such time as contingency plans can be put in place.

According to the salvors in charge of attempt to refloat the 32,926-dwt Maersk Sealand container ship, Smit Marine, the dredger’s port rudder was damaged yesterday evening whilst working to increase the water depth seawards of the casualty.

Smit Marine said that contingencies include mobilising another dredger from Richards Bay and utilising launches alongside Sealand Express to move the accumulated sand. These options will be further explored once the outcome of an underwater video survey of the Ham 316 dredger has been completed.

Should the dredger require dry docking to repair the damage sustained, she will be out of action from the salvage operation for between three to four days.

Ironically, Ham 316 remains booked into the Durban dry dock during late September for maintenance although this will presumably remain on hold until the Table Bay job is complete or her services no longer required.

Preparations for the next refloating attempt on 11 September, during the spring high tide, will continue as planned and to this end the Smit salvage tug John Ross is currently at anchor off Milnerton, having returned from assisting with the pursuit and arrest of the Uruguayan fishing vessel Viarsa 1 in the Southern Ocean.

Should the dredger remain out of operation, John Ross will be connected up early next week and with the assistance of two other tugs during the spring high tide will make the attempt to pull the ship clear.

The next refloating opportunity available to the salvage team comes towards the end of September from the 27th.

Meanwhile the salvage team completed unloading the 7th container of hazardous cargo yesterday, it requiring a total of ten flights with the Mi8 helicopter to complete the job and this morning work began on unloading the 8th container, which contains fungicide. There are a total of 33 containers of hazardous cargo on board the ship out of a total of 1,037 containers.

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