South African salvage engineers were due to start pumping 400 tonnes of fuel from the stranded derelict tanker ‘Phoenix’ on Thursday.
The tanker ran aground on Tuesday morning at Salt Rock, north of Durban, according to Capt Nigel Campbell from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), talking to the local News24 channel on Wednesday.
Bad weather, resulting in up to 4 m swells, pushed the tanker closer to the shore after her anchor chain parted.
The skeleton crew of 15 was airlifted to safety by an SAAF helicopter.
Later, it was reported that the cost of salvaging the stricken tanker could rise to as much as R30 mill, SAMSA said Thursday.
According to Malcolm Hartwell, a master mariner and director in admiralty and shipping at Norton Rose. "It could cost as much as $50 mill, according to an estimate I was given by P&I Associates," P&I Associates is a South African surveying concern acting for various insurers and P&I clubs.
The tanker was not insured and it was unlikely the cost of removing the fuel and refloating it would be recovered by the South African government, local reports said.
On Wednesday, the authority obtained a court order to detain, seize and sell the vessel. It will return to court next week to get a final order allowing it to sell the vessel, which first ran into trouble on 6th July.
The ship was sailing to India for recycling when its engines failed near East London.