Pongola returns to Durban for repairs

Jul 26, 2004
Author: P&S

The Ocean Africa Container Lines vessel Pongola (7,959-gt) returned to Durban under her own power on Thursday last week and went directly to the Bayhead ship repair area. The vessel later docked on the floating dock Eldock, owned and operated by Durban ship repair company Elgin Brown & Hamer, for assessment and repairs.

The container ship is deployed on Ocean Africa’s East Coast service between Durban and Mombasa and ran aground while entering Beira port on 5 July with a harbour pilot on board. The incident effectively blocked the entrance channel and closed the port to all traffic until 12 July.

After lightening ship by discharging some of her containers onto barges, Pongola was subsequently refloated by a team from Durban salvage company Subtech Diving & Marine with the assistance of the salvage and supply tug Toto.

Once the balance of containers on board had been discharged at Beira, Pongola returned to Durban, accompanied by Toto and arriving at 15.00 on Thursday, 22 July.

According to preliminary reports Pongola has buckled bottom plates and a hogsback caused by the rise and fall of tides as the ship lay stranded on the sandbank. Repairs are estimated to involve some 400 tonnes of new steel.

In the meantime Ocean Africa Container Lines, which has the vessel under time charter from owners Mocambo Shipping (managed by Scott Shipping), has taken another container vessel, UAFL Express under short-term charter to maintain the integrity of Ocean Africa’s East Coast schedule.

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