Container ship Safmarine Agulhas goes aground off East London

Jun 27, 2006
Author: P&S

The container ship Safmarine Agulhas has gone aground off the port of East London.

The accident occurred last night at about 18.00 shortly after the ship sailed from the port, bound for Durban. There were strong winds blowing and a 3m swell running at the time.


The container ship Safmarine Agulhas, aground on a sandbank 200m from the East London western breakwater. Click image to enlarge. Picture courtesy SMIT Salvage

Approximately one kilometre outside the port entrance the vessel reported it had lost all engine power. Helpless, the ship was blown back towards the rocky western breakwater but fortunately before reaching this point Safmarine Agulhas went aground on what is thought to be a sandbank, about 200m from the breakwater itself.

Two harbour tugs, Impunzi and Umthwalumi hastened to the scene and after some attempts managed to get a line aboard despite the heavy seas. Their efforts to pull the ship off the sandbank, assisted by the Safmarine Agulhas’ own engines which by now (20.00) had been restarted, proved fruitless.

Smit Salvage of Cape Town has been awarded a Lloyds Open Form to salvage the vessels and has sent a team to East London and is also mobilising additional resources and equipment.

Safmarine Agulhas is on charter to Safmarine for the company’s second string South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS) and is a regular caller at South African ports. The 16,800-gt vessel was built in 1995 and is registered to a German company named Merkur Delta. Vinnen FA of Bremen, Germany manages the vessel on behalf of the owners. The ship flies the flag of Liberia and has also operated under the names Jolly Ocra, CSAV Salerno and Merkur Delta.



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