Three attempts were made this week to remove the vessel from the rocks and unfortunately all were unsuccessful. Two attempts took place during the rising spring tide. This gave us the highest tide but unfortunately heavy swell conditions resulted in the tow gear parting. During the third attempt on the falling tide the swell was insufficient to assist in lifting the vessel as the tugs commenced pulling.
On the last attempt maximum power restrictions of the tugs were exceeded in the attempt to free the vessel.
On Thursday 4th August, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court confirmed that the vessel may be sold to the party that submitted the highest bid (this requires the vessel to be afloat for onward towage to India for scrap) and the fuel recovered from the vessel may be sold. These funds will be used to offset a small portion of the expenditure incurred by the State.
What is the way forward?
SAMSA with Smit Amandla Marine and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) are taking the following steps;
The next re-flotation attempt is planned for the spring tide on 30 August;
Preparations on-board the Phoenix for the re-flotation attempt are continuing;
Smit Amandla Marine will keep a team on site to monitor the integrity of the vessel;
Regular patrols will be undertaken to monitor and react to any traces of oil found on the beach;
Planning has commenced on the steps that may need to be taken to ensure the removal of the vessel in the event that further re-floating attempts are unsuccessful. To this end Smit Amandla Marine have brought in experts from Holland who have undertaken many such operations previously. These options will be presented to SAMSA and DEA on 12 August.
An Environmental Impact Assessment will be undertaken as part of the process.
Regional Manager: Southern Region