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28 July 2011

Stranded tanker at Salt Rock, Durban set to be sold


The Phoenix, a derelict bulk tanker ran aground at Salt Rock on Durban’s North Coast at about 10:00 this morning. The NSRI and salvors are on hand. (User picture, Chris Kleynhans)

Duane Petrus, News24

Durban - The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) says its attempts to communicate with the Indian owners of the tanker that ran aground in Salt Rock, north of Durban, on Monday have been fruitless.

Samsa had initially been in touch with the owners of the Phoenix about getting it removed from the South African Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The owners promised to provide a salvage tug to take over from Smit Amandla and continue the voyage to the scrapyard in India, Samsa said.

The tanker is still aground and Samsa approached the KwaZulu-Natal High Court to get permission to seize and sell the Phoenix, in order to recoup the expenditure incurred in preserving the vessel, safeguarding the lives of the crew and removing the pollution threat.

The order has been granted and potential buyers have already been identified for the tanker, which is to be auctioned on August 4.

Salvage engineers are currently on board the Phoenix, attempting to pump out 400 cubic metres of marine gas oil and assessing what will need to be done to strengthen parts of the derelict vessel that will bear the load when it is to be refloated.

Operations on the tanker will only be done in daylight, Samsa says, as a result of the bad weather.

Meanwhile, a clean-up operation is under way on the beach.

KwaZulu-Natal cooperative governance MEC Nomusa Dube is leading a government delegation to "ensure the oil spillage does not cause an environmental disaster”, department spokesperson Mthatheni Mabaso told Sapa.

- News24