Dredger back in Durban for repairs

Mar 17, 2004
Author: P&S

The Belgium dredger Filippo Brunelleschi, which is fast developing a reputation for having a jinx while on the African coast, has returned to Durban for mechanical repairs to a burned out electric dredge pump.

The breakdown occurred while the dredger was at work at the new port of Ngqura (Coega) on the southeast coast of South Africa, shortly after the vessel had run across her own drag gear in shallowing water, rupturing the hull. Temporary repairs to the latter were undertaken but the burned out pump and related generator required a replacement.

The new pump, generator and rotor being lifted aboard the Filippo Brunelleschi alongside Elgin Brown & Hamer’s repair quay yesterday (16 March)

This involved chartering a heavylift Antonov An-124 cargo plane at a cost of about 450,000 euros to fly out the replacement parts totalling 67 tonnes, and as the Port Elizabeth airport runway is not long enough both the aircraft and dredger were diverted to Durban.

Filippo Brunelleschi, which is owned and operated by Jan de Nul has been in the news constantly since arriving in Walvis Bay last November for the newbuild’s first dredge in southern Africa. Halfway into the maintenance contract all work had to be abandoned when several crewmembers were hospitalised after the dredger sucked up a dome of hydrogen sulphide gas (for which the port is well-known – was this listed in the contract?).

After completing a subsequent small dredge at Luderitz without incident Filippo Brunelleschi headed for Durban to undertake the filling in of the Port 2005 Point project – about 3 million cubic metres of infill at the new quay works along the Point. This involved dredging sand from outside the port entrance, which was handled with impressive speed and efficiency but for one mishap when the ship’s positioning apparatus failed leaving Filippo Brunelleschi to collide with the quay wall at M berth.

Repairs to this damage were completed before the ship sailed for her next assignment with the National Ports Authority, at the new port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth. This contract is expected to last about a year but within two days of her arrival Filippo Brunelleschi ran aground across her own drag gear. Again temporary repairs were made to enable her to continue with the contract, until the latest mishap involving the pump.

The new pump, generator and rotor are currently being fitted at the Elgin Brown & Hamer shipyard in Durban, after which the ship will head south to continue her interrupted contract, hopefully this time without further ado.

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