SMIT Salvage Team Responds in S. Africa and Venezuela

Monday, July 29, 2002
SMIT Salvage has been busy responding and providing emergency pollution prevention services to casualties off the South African coast and in the Orinoco River. SMIT is currently assisting the products carrier Nino and the general cargo vessel TMP Sagitarius. Both vessels went aground on rocks off the coast of East London, between Durban and Port Elizabeth, on July 18 within hours of each other. During June, SMIT was awarded three LOF contracts involving a grounding in Venezuela and two casualties with engine problems off the South African coast. On June 22, the 39,607 dwt Grigoroussa 1 dragged her anchors in the Orinoco River, Puerto Ordaz. The 1976-built vessel was nearly fully laden, carrying 35,000 tonnes of coal upriver. SMIT was awarded an LOF contract on June 24 and mobilised a Salvage Master from its Houston offices and a salvage team from Rotterdam. Tugs and equipment were hired locally. The Grigoroussa 1 was stuck firm in the river bed, behind a bank, resisting efforts by local tugs to pull her free. On inspection, the salvage team decided to discharge part of the cargo, to assist refloating. This required the removal of some 3,000 tonnes of coal. The cargo was discharged by grabs to a barge moored alongside. The vessel is scheduled to be refloated at the end of July. Meanwhile, SMIT assisted two vessels off Cape Town. This is an area of extreme environmental sensitivity, with a history of several high profile incidents in recent times, including the Ikan Tanda - a general cargo vessel that grounded last year. On the evening of June 30, the OBO Venture reported engine trouble. This 1983-built vessel was carrying nearly 60,000 tonnes of unleaded gasoline. SMIT, working under an LOF contract, mobilised the large tug Wolraad Woltemade and arrived on scene early the next morning. The OBO Venture was towed to safety at Cape Town. Earlier in the month, SMIT responded to a similar incident in the same area. The 8,924 dwt Shinkai Maru reported engine difficulties, while 12 miles south of Cape Agulhas on June 8. She had departed Singapore on May 12, laden with vehicles, machinery and earth-moving equipment, destined for Matadi. SMIT was awarded an LOF and mobilised a salvage team and the Wolraad Woltemade. On inspection, the Salvage Master decided that the vessel was in danger of running aground. The Wolraad Woltemade was connected up immediately to this 1980-built vessel and she was towed to Cape Town, arriving on June 10. In May, SMIT completed the wreck removal of the inland vessel Ertina, in the River Scheldt. This vessel, laden with coal dust, sank on May 14 in the Schaar van Waarde. SMIT mobilised two sheerlegs - the Ajax and Taklift 1. The first phase of the wreck removal operation involved positioning cables under the hull. One of the sheerlegs then connected up to the barge and rotated the hull, allowing the salvage team to reach the remaining cargo. On May 21, the two sheerlegs worked in tandem to raise the 67 m long barge. The Ertina was then towed to a harbour at Hansweert.
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