Photos: Tanker, Tug Dodge Grounding after Towing Operation Goes Awry

An old tanker and a tug pulling the vessel toward Maputo went adrift in St. Francis Bay, South Africa, some 15 miles from the shore on Friday evening, May 4, after the towing line between the two vessels snapped.

The crew of AHT Carrier tried to detach from MT Order, which was apparently heading for scrapping, and re-attach the towline, but the efforts were futile, South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.

Sarah Smith, NSRI’s St.Francis Bay station commander said that no lives were in any immediate danger while the two vessels remained tethered to each other. As informed, 14 crew members were on board the tug, while the tanker had no crew members on board.

The emergency response vessels were dispatched to the scene on the following day when it was determined that the stricken duo had drifted around five nautical miles off the shore.

NSRI St Francis Bay deployed sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II and the NSRI Jeffreys Bay sea rescue craft Eddie Beaumont II to the spot.

“On arrival on the scene we found both vessels approximately 5 nautical miles off-shore and in the current drift they were approximately 2 hours from running aground,” Smith said.

“All crew onboard the tug were safe but they were helpless without a tender boat to recover their towline from the water and with rope fouled around one motor leaving the MT Order at risk of running aground.”

The NSRI sea rescue craft managed to haul back the broken tow line and rig another towing rope to the tug.

The tug boat, with one of its engines operational and tow-line rigged stern to stern, managed to gently head further out to sea.

Shortly afterward, SA Amandla salvage vessel arrived at the scene and took over the tow of the MT Order.

“At this stage, SA Amandla are towing the casualty ship further out to sea and no further NSRI assistance has been requested,” NSRI said on Saturday, May 5.

“NSRI St Francis Bay, NSRI Jeffreys Bay and all involved in this operation are commended for averting a disaster at sea today.”

Image Courtesy: NSRI