Cape Africa cofferdam shelved

Jun 6, 2004
Author: Smit Salvage


In consultation with the South African Maritime Safety Authority and the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, a revised salvage plan with respect to the bulk carrier 'Cape Africa', at anchor in False Bay, Cape Town, has been devised.

In light of the recent experience in attempting to fit a cofferdam over the area of extensive damage to hold No.3, this phase of the cofferdam fitment operation has been shelved and the vessel will be lightened in order to bring her into a port for repairs.

Efforts to fit a cofferdam over the area of damage to hold No.4 portside will continue and temporary repairs to this area will be undertaken. A specialised vessel will be used for the purpose of lightening the Cape Africa by removing some 80,000 tonnes of her iron ore cargo. It is anticipated that this vessel will arrive in False Bay by 20th June and is expected to require at least 7 full, good-weather working days in order to complete the partial cargo removal.

The Cape Africa will then have been sufficiently lightened to enable her to be towed to a port where temporary repairs can be undertaken. After the lightening operation, the area of extensive structural damage to hold No.3 will be above the waterline.

Damage sustained to the Cape Africa's No.2 double bottom tank on Wednesday morning prior to the release of the cofferdam, an area measuring some 20cm x 20cm, has been repaired and the tank pumped dry. The cofferdam has been located on the seabed and will be recovered.

Of paramount importance during the Cape Africa's time at anchor in False Bay, considered by the South African Maritime Safety Authority to be a place of refuge for the damaged vessel and not a location in which to conduct permanent repairs, is the protection of the marine environment.

To this end, both proactive and reactive environmental protection measures are in place. The Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism's oil pollution patrol and abatement vessel - Kuswag IV - remains on the scene and undertakes regular patrols in the vicinity of the casualty - for the purpose of oil pollution patrol as well as the monitoring of adherence to anti-pollution and garbage disposal measures.

To this end, the salvage team has strict anti-littering and garbage disposal control measures in place, including the regular removal of this waste in an enclosed waste skip by launch vessel to Simon's Town. The oil pollution patrol aircraft - Kuswag VIII - continues to patrol False Bay on a regular basis. As part of the precautionary measures put in place prior to the Cape Africa's entry into False Bay, contingency plans remain in place for all river estuaries and for Seal Island and the Boulders Penguin Colony. A Smit Salvage team completed the removal of approximately 1,800 tonnes of bunker fuel from the bulk carrier Cape Africa on Friday 14th May, which was one of the requirements that had to be fulfilled prior to her entry into False Bay.
The 150 000 Dwt bulk carrier Cape Africa is owned by U-Ming Marine Transportation Corporation and was built in 1991. It is carrying a cargo of iron ore and was en route to the Far East from Ponta da Madeira in Brazil. The Master and crew were flown off the casualty on Wednesday 28 April as a precautionary measure after reporting extensive structural damage in hold No.3 earlier.


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