Aug 5, 2006
Another sea drama is unfolding off the Zululand coast this morning (Saturday) with the diminutive island supply ship Shearwater radioing the news that she had developed an 8 degree list to starboard and was encountering heavy sea conditions, with swells of between 8 and 9 metres.
At the time (06.00) of the initial report Shearwater was about 13 miles off St Lucia and was making for Durban on a routine trading call. Shearwater trades between Durban and the Seychelles and other Indian Ocean islands.
Two Oryx helicopters of 16 Squadron based in Durban were mobilised and flew north to the scene but have since returned to Durban. A rescue craft of the Richards Bay NSRI also put to sea but is now believed to be returning and latest indications are that Shearwater is in no immediate danger and is able to proceed. She may however head for the nearby Richards Bay harbour to sit out the southwesterly buster that has been blowing since Friday night.
The registered owner of Shearwater is listed as Shearwater Shipping Lines of the Seychelles and she is managed by HDSA of Vetch Road, Durban. The ship was built in 1976 for trading on the North European coastal service and in European rivers – she has a shallow draught, a low freeboard and her wheelhouse is carried on a moveable stem that allows it to be lowered when the ship has to cross under bridges. This facility obviously has little or no need in southern African and island waters where the ship has traded for a number of years.
Shearwater carries a crew of ten persons and is 92.4m in length with a beam of 11.3m and a draught of 4m. Her deadweight is 2,550 tons.
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