Kiperousa declared a total loss

Jul 24, 2005
Author: P&S

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The dry bulker Kiperousa, which went aground off the Eastern Cape coast on the night of 7 June 2005, has been declared a total loss after final efforts to refloat the Greek ship failed this weekend.

The decision was taken earlier today once it was revealed that damage to the ship, which has been aground on a rocky outcrop about 5 n.miles southwest of the small village of Hamburg, was mounting. It was hoped that by removing the cargo of logs the ship could be lightened and as a result a heavylift Mi26 helicopter that is normally based in Central Africa was chartered to remove the approximately 8,000 logs, each of which weighs an estimated 3 tons.

At the start of this weekend all of the deck cargo had been airlifted ashore where the logs were taken by road to East London. The weekend also coincided with a window of opportunity by way of spring high tides and the Tsavliris salvage team had been confident of refloating the ship. But then came the news this afternoon that the salvage had been called off – Kiperousa was declared a total loss.

According to an East London port spokesman, efforts will now turn to removing the balance of the cargo ashore and to East London, where a site has been made available within the port precinct. Once that has been completed it can be expected that the ship’s destruction will be hastened.

Kiperousa is owned by a Greek company named Swan Marine and managed by another Greek company Sealink Marine of the same address in Piraeus. The ship was built in 1984 and is registered under the Maltese flag of convenience. Kiperousa is 159m long and has a beam of 25.2m with a draught of 10.2m.

Her cargo of hardwood logs was loaded in West Africa and the ship was en route to the Far East with a planned bunker call at Durban when she ran aground in good weather and sea conditions.

Her crew of 25 was safely taken off the ship on the first evening by an East London harbour tug in an operation lasting approximately 20 minutes. The crew was then transferred to the South African Navy hydrographic ship SAS Protea.

According to sources the harbour tug had earlier offered to put a line aboard the Kiperousa and take the vessel in tow, but the offer was declined by the owners or their agents. The ship in the meantime was taking water in the engine room and settling by the stern which led to the captain requesting that all crew be taken off. Shortly afterwards the vessel went aground for the last time.

Later it was learned that the Tsavliris salvage tug Nicolay Chiker, which was on station at Cape Town and several days sailing away, had been awarded the attempted salvage. Whether the harbour tug would have been successful in salvaging the Kiperousa may now never be known, but it raises the issue of who should take the decision when the coastal environment is at stake.

In the event the environment did not suffer from oil pollution, thanks to the relatively small amount of bunker fuel on the ships which was removed and transferred to another tug Toto during the salvage operation. As a safeguard the South African Department of Environmental Affairs placed an oil dispersant vessel on standby throughout and also aerial overflights to track any pollution.



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