Drama as three vessels towed into Durban

Dec 9, 2004
Author: P&S



It was a day of interesting drama and seamanship on Tuesday morning (7 December) when not less than three incapacitated vessels were towed into Durban harbour.

First up was the Spanish fishing vessel Maral, which lost the use of her propulsion and was towed to Durban by another fishing vessel, the M Secundo. Maral is reported to have developed a problem with the tailshaft coupling, preventing the use of her propulsion but why she was towed stern first into harbour was not immediately apparent. The vessel entered port in a drawn-out zigzag manner towed by a single NPA harbour tug, the Umsunduzi.

the crippled fishing trawler Maral

Coincidentally, a Spanish fishing vessel also named Maral was in the Namibian news earlier this week following the return to a Luderitz court of the ship’s master, Captain Jorge Alonso Martinez.

According to The Namibian newspaper Captain Martinez was arrested six months ago on charges of fishing illegally in Namibian waters and this week’s appearance was a continuation of his trial.

When Maral was apprehended the vessel had its long lines deployed inside Namibian territorial waters and about 1.3 tonnes of fish catch on board, consisting of 21 swordfish, 24 mako sharks, 21 blue fin sharks, four tuna and one swordfish.

The newspaper reports Captain Martinez as claiming to have inadvertently entered Namibian waters – in his defense he stated that he thought they were still in South African waters where the ship is licensed to fish. The case is proceeding.

The next tow into port was the small tanker Nisha II, which is en route to the Indian sub-continent scrap yards and has been under tow behind the diminutive Nigerian tug Numo. That Numo has battled to keep up to the appointed task is indicated by the length of time spent along the South African coast, where eventually things came to a head at 04.30 on 1 December some 70 n.miles ENE of East London when during a strong gale the vessel lost the tow, which it was unable to pick up again due to rough seas.

the Nigerian tug Numo

With Numo running low on fuel a call went out for assistance from the salvage tug Smit Amandla, on station along the South African coast, which hastened to the scene and was able to collect what then became a double tow of both Nisha II and Numo.

The ensemble arrived off Durban on the morning of 7 December where Numo was disengaged allowing Smit Amandla to bring the derelict tanker into port with the assistance of two harbour tugs.

Nisha II and Smit Amandla

The third vessel requiring assistance was the reefer ship Snow Crystal (14,512-gt, built 1973, ship manager Holy House Shipping, Stockholm). The reefer reported an engine room fire about 150 n.miles NE of Durban off St Lucia on Sunday 5 December while voyaging from Paranagua to the Persian Gulf with a cargo of frozen chickens.

The Durban-based offshore tug Pentow Service immediately sailed to her assistance. The fire was subsequently brought under control but with engine room power lost Pentow Service was required to take Snow Crystal in tow back to Durban, where the reefer will undergo repair at the Dormac repair yard.

Snow Crystal arriving in Durban

All pictures by Terry Hutson

The fishing vessel Maral has moved to Elgin Brown & Hamer for repairs. Snow Crystal is at the Dormac repair yard and Numo and Nisha II are on layby berths at the Point. Barwil SA is the port agent for the latter two vessels.


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