Conditions Onboard Grounded RoRo Not So ‘Jolly’ for SMIT

Thursday, September 19, 2002
Following yesterday afternoon’s helicopter evacuation of salvage personnel from the grounded Jolly Rubino, the team was flown out to the casualty again this morning in an attempt to gain access to the engine room. The situation onboard during the morning allowed for safe entry into this area, where yesterday smoke and excessive heat had made conditions unsafe for salvage personnel. The team commenced working in protective gear and with breathing apparatus in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees and were able to resume pumping operations in an attempt to clear the engine room of water as part of preparations for the fuel removal operation. The water, rather than being pumped overboard, was being used to cool the engine room bulkhead. During the afternoon however, with the wind picking up and flames becoming visible in certain areas as the wind fanned the fire, conditions onboard again became unsafe and salvage personnel were evacuated from the casualty shortly after 15h00. Yesterday it was reported that water ingress through the crack in the starboard fuel tank had raised the water level in this tank, pushing fuel oil into the cargo compartment and this had ignited causing an intensification of the fire. The asbestos experts who were asked to investigate the threat posed to salvage personnel by the asbestos dust in the engine room were able to gain access to this area today. They provided SMIT Salvage with guidelines as to how to operate within these conditions, so as to ensure the safety of personnel. Preparations for the fuel removal operation are ongoing. The ‘Pentow Service’ will be loaded with the mooring spread and other specialized equipment required for the ship-to-ship transfer in the Port of Richards Bay this afternoon. Predicted weather conditions for the next few days are expected to follow the same pattern as those experienced over the course of the past few days, with the wind speed picking-up during the afternoons. The Oil Pollution Patrol aircraft ‘Kuswag VII’ reported this afternoon that the oil slick breaks up 1 mile south of the casualty and dissipates into sheen at 1.5 miles. Minimal oil is seen to be emanating from the ‘Jolly Rubino’. The Master, Officers and Crew of the ‘Jolly Rubino’ abandoned ship late Tuesday 10th September after failing to extinguish an onboard fire. The fire spread throughout the vessel causing extensive damage and on the afternoon of September 12, the vessel ran aground 1,2 miles north east of the Cape St Lucia lighthouse at a distance of 300 meters from the shore.

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