Another setback for dredger Filippo Brunelleschi

Mar 24, 2004
Author: P&S

The Belgian trailing suction dredger Filippo Brunelleschi was again reported put of action, shortly after continuing a dredging contract at the new port of Ngqura (better known as Coega).

From initial reports it appears the dredger, owned and operated by Jan de Nul, ran across her own trailing suction gear, holing the vesselís hull in the process. This would be the second time this has happened while at Coega Ė the first being shortly after arrival at the fledgling East Cape port last month.

On that occasion temporary repairs enabled work to continue, but which came to a sudden halt when a pump motor burned out, requiring the vessel to return to Durban for a replacement pump and generator to be fitted. On completion of these repairs the dredger returned to Coega. (See related reports in this news column)

The damaged dredger was today at Port Elizabethís berth 9 undergoing an assessment as ro whether further temporary repairs can be carried out that will allow the continuation of the contract.

Filippo Brunelleschi has endured a string of bad luck ever since arriving on the southern Africa coast late last year. In November a routine maintenance dredge at the Namibian port of Walvis Bay came to a sudden end when the dredgerís trailing gear ran over a dome of hydrogen sulphide gas, which resulted in several crewmembers having to be hospitalised in Walvis Bay. The dredger subsequently sailed from Walvis Bay.

The next port of call was Durban where a contract to fill a new wharfside area at the Point required about 3 million cubic metres of sand to be dredged from outside the port and deposited in the new work area. This proceeded at an impressive speed, save for a relatively minor mishap when the vesselís positioning apparatus failed and Filippo Brunelleschi collided with the quayside.

The damage did not interrupt operations and work continued nevertheless, with hull repairs completed out at the Elgin Brown & Hamer shipyard in Durban at the completion of the contract. Thereafter the dredger sailed for Coega and the main South African contract at the new port of Ngqura. Within days the first accident occurred with Filippo Brunelleschi running over her own suction gear and the vessel settling in what was fortunately shallow water.

Temporary repairs saw the vessel being refloated and returned to work, until the pump burned out which required her to return to Durban. This was necessary because the Port Elizabeth airport runway is not long enough to accommodate the heavylift Antonov An124 aircraft chartered to fly out the replacement machinery. After installation of the pump at the Elgin Brown & Hamer yard Filippo Brunelleschi returned to Coega, and the latest incident.

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