Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 9, 2006
Author: P&S


  • Missing yacht Moquini found

  • Suez Canal blocked by container ship

  • Limpopo railway reopened

  • Pressure mounts on Al Salam ferry company

  • Nigerian Navy forced to release ship after two years

  • Yesterday’s wrong SAPO link now fixed

  • Clipper Race - 8 yachts have stress problems

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    Missing yacht Moquini found floating upside down

    Report by Richard Crockett on behalf of the Mauritius to Durban Yacht Race organising committee

    The yacht MOQUINI which went missing with all her six crew in September last year has been found floating upside down 500 nautical miles off the notorious South African Wild Coast.

    The upturned vessel was spotted on Sunday 5 February at 10h49 UTC in a position of 33 32 south and 38 21 east by Patrick le Masson the Master of the MT ALGARVE (Motor Tanker).

    click on image to enlarge

    This information was immediately transmitted to the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre) in Cape Town. The MRCC immediately requested that the MT Algarve stand by the vessel to establish a drift pattern. Despite tight deadlines the ship’s owners agreed and the MT ALGARVE stood by for 12 hours, relaying the drift pattern to the MRCC.

    The MRCC also sent an SAAF search and rescue aircraft out on Tuesday to obtain a position, and did the same yesterday (Wednesday) when they located the upturned vessel and directed the salvage tug to the casualty. There is also a fishing vessel in the area which has offered its assistance if needed.

    The MRCC immediately dispatched a salvage vessel, the Smit Amandla, to the area. The Smit Amandla has divers aboard who were able to inspect the hull and positively identify it as the MOQUINI.

    MOQUINI is a sorry sight as it is completely inverted with the rudder and engine’s saildrive unit in their normal position - although the keel is completely missing.

    The big question is what happened?

    “We don’t know yet” said Matthew Thomas who headed the private search initiative when the vessel first went missing. “However, with the keel missing, the yacht would have immediately inverted 90 degrees, and within less than a minute would have completely inverted. There would have been little or no time for the crew to do anything. Anyone on deck would have been flung into the water. Anyone down below would have had little time to evacuate, and if they had been asleep in a bunk, may well have been badly injured in the initial inversion as they were flung sleeping from their bunk.”

    And in the very short time available between the keel coming off and the boat inverting, they may well not have had the time or ability to launch the liferaft. Plus, whether the crew were wearing lifejackets or not, it would have been almost impossible for them to stay close to the boat as there is nothing for them to hold on to on an upturned slippery hull.

    If conditions were relatively calm and the wind not blowing too hard, the yacht would also have had some hatches open, and these would immediately have caused the vessel to fill with water.

    It will take some investigation to determine whether MOQUINI hit anything, causing the keel to come off, or whether it was a catastrophic failure.

    At this point it is pure speculation as to when the incident occurred. If it happened when the single blip from the EPIRB was transmitted on Friday morning 16 September last year at approximately 03h40, it would have been dark, and difficult for anyone to locate the EPIRB in the cabin and set it off. However, knowing that the keel was off, may explain the single blip from the EPIRB, as an EPIRB will not transmit when more than half a metre below the water - and with the boat completely capsized it would have been under water.
    Further information will be released immediately it is received from the salvors.

    The six crew aboard MOQUINI were:

    Graham Cochrane
    Neil Tocknell
    Kurt Ostendorf
    Sheldon Dickerson
    Mark Dickerson
    Michael Goolam.

    Massive public support enabled a two week private air search to be conducted when MOQUINI was first reported missing.

    - Richard Crockett is publisher and editor of Sailing Publications CC, t/a SAILING (incorporating SA Yachting) Magazine.

    Suez Canal blocked by container ship

    One of the largest container ships afloat blocked the Suez Canal yesterday (Wednesday) after losing steerage and sheering sideways across the width of the waterway.

    The incident occurred during a sand storm approximately 6 miles south of Ismailiya. Shortly before noon the 8,063-TEU container ship OOCL Qingdao, which is 323m in length veered at right angles across the canal, effectively blocking it to all traffic. While no reason has been offered for the incident it is thought that strong winds may have been a factor. There was also poor visibility at the time.

    The Canal authorities are working to clear the blockage and allow normal movement to resume through the busy waterway.

    Limpopo railway reopened

    The Limpopo railways between the Mozambique port of Maputo and the eastern border with Zimbabwe has been reopened after heavy rains and washaways closed the line to all traffic for about a month.

    The damaged section was between Mabalane and Combomune in an area where the railway ruins close to the course of the Limpopo Rive. The line was cut in five different places. CFM, the Mozambique ports and railways company sent teams out to undertake the repairs just as soon as conditions permitted.

    The company’s executive director said this week that CFM would shortly introduce a programme to upgrade the line in the vulnerable areas that are prone to flooding.

    - source courtesy of MCLI (Maputo Corridor Liaison Initiative)

    Pressure mounts on Al Salam ferry company

    Pressure is mounting to have someone held accountable for the large loss of lives at the weekend when the Egyptian ferry Al Salam Boccaccio 98 caught fire and sank in the Red Sea. An estimated 1000 people, mostly Egyptians returning home from working in Saudi Arabia, lost their lives.

    Local human rights organisations in Egypt have launched their own independent enquiry into the disaster and even a government sponsored newspaper Al-Ahram has spoken out unusually critically of government bungling, accusing the government of being impotent and inefficient in preventing the tragedy or reacting promptly to it.

    It now appears that the company owning the ferries, El Salam Shipping & Trading, knew about the fire on board almost as soon as it broke out, but failed to inform the authorities for another six hours, thus delaying any possible reaction by Egypt’s sea rescue or navy units. By the time the government authorities had been informed, it was already too late and the vessel had been on the bottom of the sea for at least five hours.

    A government spokesman claimed authorities were first notified at 7am when they were told the ship was in danger. They were subsequently informed 45 minutes later that she may have sunk. But according to survivors the vessel went down between 1am and 2am in the night.

    The master of another company ship, the Santa Catherine told a Cairo newspaper that he had sailed from the Egyptian port of Salaga at 2.45am and was advised then by his head office that the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 was in trouble and that he should proceed to give help if possible. He finally made radio contact with one of the ship’s officers just before 7am, who told him he was in a lifeboat and that the ship had sunk

    President Mubarak has promised a full investigation and said that those responsible will be ‘not escape without punishment.’ He said he was sad and angry over the tragedy.

    Nigerian Navy forced to release ship after two years

    The Nigerian government has instructed the Nigerian Navy to release the detained tanker Mahdi, which has been held in custody in Lagos port for two years.

    The vessel was seized by the navy on 31 December 2003 on suspicion of carrying crude oil without the proper documentation. The ship’s owner maintained that his ship was carrying bunker oil and not crude and said that tests had subsequently proved this. Despite a court order in its favour the ship has remained under detention at a Lagos anchorage.

    Now, following instructions that came down from the country’s president, the flag officer of Nigeria’s Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral John Kpokpogri has given the ship’s owners 24 hours to ‘get the ship out of town.’ Once the 24 hours are up he said the navy would not be responsible for any ‘vandalism’ that might occur.

    In 2004 the owner of the Mahdi told a court that his agents had watched as Nigerian Navy personnel siphoned off the bunker oil on board his vessel, despite a court order instructing that the ship and its cargo of bunker fuel be handed back to the owner. He said that the navy had also ignored tests that showed the cargo was not crude oil as per the charge. His agents had subsequently been arrested and detained by the navy.

    Corruption throughout the Nigerian oil industry is rife and it is estimated that at least 10% of all oil is stolen or ‘spirited’ away in an illegal fashion.

    Yesterday’s wrong SAPO link now fixed

    Apologies – in yesterday’s lead story we provided the wrong link for the SAPO crane order story. We have since fixed the link which you can also find at http://ports.co.za/sapo/article_2006_02_7_2019.html

    Clipper Race – 8 yachts have stress problems

    With the race temporarily suspended owing to a problem with the hull and keels of almost all the yachts (see reports of yesterday and Tuesday 7 February), there is nothing further to report at this stage. All yachts are safely at Subic Bay in the Philippines. For further details you can use the link below which is often updated several times each day.

    - source http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk

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