Kiperousa outlook gets bleaker by the day

Sep 8, 2005
Author: P&S

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Efforts at recovering the balance of cargo from the grounded log ship Kiperousa – between 6,000 and 7,000 West African logs remain on board beneath decks - received yet another setback when a second barge arrived at the weekend with extensive damage from its journey from the Middle East.

The 84m barge GC55 arrived in tow to the Bahrain-registered offshore supply tug Zakher Delmon after encountering rough seas en route to South Africa and resulting in damage to the barge that will require repairs in the port’s dry dock. A survey was conducted this week and now the owners have to decide whether to repair the barge.

A second and smaller Durban-based barge, Jumbo is already on site and has cleared a small number of logs from the Kiperousa. The salvage firm of SvitzerWijsmuller holds the current contract for salvaging the under deck cargo.

Salvage experts fear that another storm in the area will destroy the stricken vessel, which has severe fractures throughout the vessel. They also fear that this will release the logs into the surf with the likelihood of them becoming a navigational hazard to shipping along the coast.

Several years ago when another logger sank in the south Mozambique channel, logs continued to wash up for months along 2,000-km of southern African coast from Mozambique to the southern Cape, creating hazard to shipping and even resulting in a fatality among swimmers on a Cape beach.

Kiperousa went aground off the Eastern Cape coast near the village of Hamburg on 7 June 2005 while en route from West Africa to the Far East with a planned call at Durban for bunkers. Remaining oil on board the vessel was successfully removed by the Tsavliris salvage team then employed.

Meanwhile Tsavliris, which held the original salvage contract to remove the deck cargo of logs from the ship as well and attempting to tow the ship into deep water, has issued a statement clarifying that Tsavliris did not abandon the salvage nor did it fail to complete the operation.

The statement reads:
“Tsavliris had originally been engaged under the terms of LOF 2000 incorporating SCOPIC and were carrying out salvage services under the SCOPIC Clause. This was subsequently terminated by the owners and their P&I Club and a wreck removal contract was entered into with the owners and their P&I Club, which involved the initial removal of the deck cargo by use of the most powerful helicopter available.

“Despite the heavy costs involved in chartering the helicopter this was considered to be the quickest, safest, most effective solution in removing the cargo. Although we had considered removing the cargo using barges, in view of the prevailing weather conditions in the area particularly in the winter months, this would be a lengthy and dangerous operation with no realistic prospect of success.

“The operation to remove the deck cargo, being the first stage of the operation under the wreck removal contract, was entirely successful in that all the deck cargo was removed within 15 days. Unfortunately, at the time of the expected reflotation of the vessel following the removal of the deck cargo by helicopter on the Spring tides on 23 July the vessel’s hull developed further damage due to the prevailing weather conditions and all her holds flooded. This, therefore, prevented the vessel from being refloated and required the under deck cargo to be removed.

“The owners and their P&I Club sought a number of tenders from a number of operators for removal of the under deck cargo. Although we did not formally tender, we reported to the Club our views as to the most appropriate manner in which to proceed. The objective of the operation was mainly to remove the remaining cargo before the ship broke up. We therefore proposed the continuation of the use of the helicopter, which could operate in bad weather conditions. This method was more expensive and in our opinion had a good chance of success. Discharging by barges was not recommended, as we believed that the vessel would break up before the completion of the operation.

“A number of companies tendered and we understand all of them with the exception of one, included the use of the helicopter. The Club decided to entrust the operation to the only company that excluded the use of the helicopter. Tsavliris were merely informed of their decision, with the explanation that the chosen contractor was significantly cheaper; whereupon Tsavliris demobilized their personnel and equipment, including the S/T ‘NIKOLAY CHIKER’.

“Some press reports have implied that Tsavliris abandoned the operation, or failed to complete the operation. This is entirely wrong and the purpose of this is to clarify the position.

“It should be noted that our relationship with the Club is long standing and we sincerely wished the insurers success in completing the operation.”




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