First 903 tonnes of fuel removed from Cape Africa

May 12, 2004
Author: Smit Salvage

12.30 Wednesday 12 May 2004

Smit Salvage were able to remove 903 tonnes of fuel from the bulk carrier Cape Africa during the course of the day on Tuesday and approximately 900 tonnes of fuel remains onboard the bulk carrier, still under tow by the Smit Amandla some 160 miles west of Cape Town.

Yesterday evening the salvage tug Nikolay Chiker disconnected and returned to the Port of Cape Town to discharge the fuel pumped to her during the day; a process that began upon her arrival early Wednesday. She will return to the location to resume pumping as soon as possible, weather permitting. It is felt that she is well suited to withstand the weather and swell conditions presently being experienced out at the location and has specialized positioning equipment onboard that assists in this regard.

The transfer of the fuel to a receiving vessel is the first phase of the salvage operation, which is contingent on the bulk carrier's condition remaining stable and the absence of adverse weather and swell conditions - all of which is being closely monitored.

The safety of salvage personnel and the protection of the marine environment remain of paramount importance in this salvage operation. In order to maximise the safety of salvage personnel working on the Cape Africa, only essential personnel will work on the casualty during the fuel transfer and two teams, working alternate shifts, will be used. No members of the salvage team will live on the Cape Africa and when not required for work, they will be transferred back to the salvage tug.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority has ordered that the Cape Africa remain at least 120 miles off of Cape Town until such time as all bunker fuel has been transferred. It has been determined that the bulk carrier has a hole by way of hold No. 3 that extends approximately 20 metres by 5 metres. The Master and crew were flown off the casualty on Wednesday 28 April as a precautionary measure after reporting extensive structural damage in hold No. 3 earlier.

The 150 000 Dwt bulk carrier Cape Africa is owned by U-Ming Marine Transportation Corporation and was built in 1991. It is carrying a cargo of iron ore and was en route to the Far East from Ponta da Madeira in Brazil.

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