Cape Africa Repairs Commence

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
A quayside in the Dockyard in Simon's Town has been the scene of much activity over the past week following the arrival of the bulk carrier 'Cape Africa' in False Bay last Tuesday, where she is presently at anchor some 6.9 kilometers off Simon's Town with the salvage tug 'Smit Amandla' in attendance.

Salvors SMIT Salvage have announced that the second phase of the salvage operation - the repair process - will begin with the fitment of a habitat over the area of structural damage on the bulk carrier on Wednesday of this week and personnel have been hard at work in Simon's Town finalising preparatory work on the habitat, which is a massive steel structure measuring some 26m x 11m x 1,5m in size.

Weather permitting, the barge 'Niord' will transport the habitat out to the bulk carrier on Wednesday morning and the heavy metal structure will be secured into position alongside the 'Cape Africa', adjacent to the area of structural damage. The structure will be hoisted up and into position over the area of damage and held in place, once pumping out of the water in #3 hold begins. The outside pressure of the water on the structure will assist in sealing it against the ships side shell plating and once in place, it will be secured by welding. This will create a safe and water-free environment in which to conduct the necessary repairs - a process that will take approximately 3 weeks.

A SMIT Salvage team completed the removal of approximately 1800 tonnes of bunker fuel from the bulk carrier 'Cape Africa' on Friday 14th May. The Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism and the South African Maritime Safety Authority subscribe to a precautionary approach and in this regard several measures are in place, including anti-pollution measures along the coastline, the continued presence of the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism's oil pollution abatement vessel - 'Kuswag IV' - and regular overflights by the patrol aircraft 'Kuswag VIII', ongoing consultation with and observation by marine biologists and other such professionals, as well as any such short term measures considered prudent by environmentalists.

The 150,000 dwt bulk carrier 'Cape Africa' is owned by U-Ming Marine Transportation Corporation and was built in 1991. It is carrying a cargo of iron ore and was en route to the Far East from Ponta da Madeira in Brazil. The Master and crew were flown off the casualty on Wednesday 28 April as a precautionary measure after reporting extensive structural damage in hold No. 3 earlier.

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