MARITIME officials have been working around the clock to clear the grounded vessel, the Phoenix, of solid waste ahead of new attempts to refloat it at the end of the month.
Although three previous attempts to move the vessel off Sheffield Beach have failed, the South African Maritime Safety Authority hopes that the spring tide on August 30 will assist its mission.
The authority’s east coast regional manager, Captain Saroor Ali, who heads the salvage operations involving the Phoenix, said yesterday he did not believe that the ship was part of an insurance scam as had been speculated in the shipping community.
He was satisfied that information from the ship’s master and chief engineer about it not being insured was correct. Ali was not concerned that the ship appeared to have changed names, as it was “not unusual” for vessels to undergo name changes, sometimes even three or four times.
“I have no doubt about it. I interviewed the master and chief engineer of the ship and they said that there was no insurance... I don’t suspect any foul play. This was an act of God; the vessel was experiencing very high, rough seas.”
Ali, who has been with the ship since shortly after it ran around – and calls it “my baby” – said it had been “laid up for some time” in Nigeria before it set sail for India. The ship’s master had been with it for three or four months before it was grounded.
“The fuel was the problem. The fuel injectors were getting choked, and the master did ask the owners for new injectors. This was somewhere off East London. The ship was headed towards Maputo when it last heard from the owners.”