Durban Update: MSC Boxship, Others Refloated. One Killed by Shipping Container.

The giant boxship MSC Ines which got grounded on Tuesday due to heavy weather in the entrance of the Port of Durban has been refloated, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) informed.

The heavy weather has seen winds reach the strength of up to 50 knots South Westerly at peak in places, and heavy rain causing flash floods.

Five tugs have been involved in the refloating mission of the ship which had drifted into the mouth of the Port of Durban abeam, including African Marine Solutions’ (AMSOL) tugs Siyanda and Siyakhula, as shown in the image below.

“The vessel, MSC Innes took priority as it blocked the port entrance. It took 5 tugs to refloat the 330-metre long container vessel and once refloated, she was allocated a berth in the port for damage inspection,” the update from South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reads.

MSC’s 9,113-TEU containership was one of five container vessels affected by yesterday’s storm, SAMSA said.

MSC Susanna and Maritime Newanda that broke moorings had to be held by harbour tugs to prevent them also running aground, SAMSA added.

Refloating operations were also launched for SM York, Bow Triumph and SA Shipyard floating dock.

Bow Triumph, a 183-metre long product tanker, which was berthed in Island View broke its moorings and ran aground on the sand bank near the Island View Terminal. The vessel was refloated at 16h30 and it took further effort to clear the anchors which were still stuck. All refloating operations were completed at 17h30 and the vessel was allocated a berth overnight for damage inspection.

MS New York, a 330-metre long container vessel, which ran aground near Maydon Wharf was also refloated and was allocated a berth for damage inspection.

By 7pm tonight the vessel, MSC Susana, which had earlier broke from its mooring ropes, was secured.

                                                                     MSC Susanna, Image Courtesy: SAMSA

The Maritime Newanda vessel which broke loose was held by tugs and is currently berthed at Maydon Wharf.

The SA Shipyards’ floating dock and new tug remain grounded on bank, according to the latest update on the situation at the scene. SAMSA said that the floating dock would be attended to today in daylight hours.

TNPA reported that there was a straddle carrier which was blown into the water and remains unsecured. There are also reports that some cranes were derailed by strong winds.

Of concern, according to Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, Sobantu Tilayi, are reports that there were about three containers believed to have been lost into the water with the exact position unknown. These pose a danger to navigation within the vicinity. TNPA confirmed that a search will be conducted in daylight hours.

There were no injuries no pollution reported on all the above incidents. Durban Port was closed due to debris in the water and unknown position of some containers which pose danger to navigation and damages to vessels.

“We are pleased with the overall cooperation from all stakeholders and the swift action to ensure the safety of people and equipment. More importantly is the demonstration of emergency preparedness that was displayed during this major incident. It is the first time that we have had to attend to this number of casualties simultaneously,” Tilayi said.

“We are increasingly getting confronted with deteriorating weather patterns and can expect similar incidents in the future given the effects of climate change.”

Separately, the winds are reported to have knocked over a stack of 40-foot shipping containers causing havoc on the nearby roads.

As informed by Netcare911 South Africa, a wholly-owned Pre-Hospital risk Management and Emergency Assistance subsidiary of Netcare LTD, one person was killed in a car as a shipping container was blown onto one of the vehicles. One person was injured.

“Port teams remain on scene. TNPA has also managed to contain containers that had blown into the bay,” TNPA added.

The vessel movements remain suspended in the port, however, there have been no severe disruptions reported at the Port of Richards Bay.

As reported yesterday, yachts and boats in the small craft harbour and at the Point Yacht Club (PYC) also broke free from their moorings.

“TNPA earlier invoked a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) at its head office and the Port of Durban to ensure that it manages the situation closely. The BCP will be operational on a 24-hour basis until TNPA has restored operations,” the update reads.

Image Courtesy: AMSOL; Video Courtesy: Blue Security