BBC China takes on water
Oct 18, 2004
Hopes are fading of refloating the German freighter BBC China following reports that much of the ship is now flooded. The 122m long 5,548-gt general cargo vessel ran aground near Port Grosvenor on Saturday night while en route to Durban for a rudder survey and bunkers.
The ship is believed to be carrying a small cargo of steel products. Salvage efforts have turned towards removing all hazardous material, mainly remaining fuel on board.
BBC China grounded on a sandbank some 150m from the beach shortly before 21.00 on Saturday night (16 October 2004). Soon afterwards water entered the engine room compartment, followed by a call from the ship for the crew to be taken off. This was accomplished despite the dark windy conditions and thanks to a helicopter from Richards Bay, which ferried all 16 crew safely to the nearby beach, from where a bus took them to Durban later on Sunday.
During the drama the South African Navy hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea stood by but was unable to approach closer than 5 miles because of the swells and wind conditions. Nevertheless the navy ship proved invaluable as a communication link between the rescue helicopter, those on the ground and the BBC China.
Small amounts of oil have leaked from the ship’s bilges and the oil abatement vessel Kuswag I is on standby to help dissipate any pollution.
N.B: The term Port Grosvenor, as with Port St Johns, is a misnomer, both places having lost their status as harbours or ports more than one hundred years ago. Port St Johns remains as a small and picturesque seaside town while Port Grosvenor is little more than a place on the map.