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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

M/T PHOENIX sunk off Durban

Forty-one days after it ran aground at Sheffield Beach, the MT Phoenix is finally out of Durban's sight.

The 164m bulk tanker was sunk at 9.47am yesterday, two days after it was towed 78km from Sheffield Beach, north of Durban. It had been there since July.

Initially, hundreds of people flocked to see the 47-year-old vessel, but when controversy over its ownership and the dent in taxpayers' pocket came to light, locals and salvage crews were glad to see it go.

South African Maritime Authority regional manager Captain Saroor Ali, who was in charge of the almost R34-million operation, was relieved to see the ship begin to sink 1000m to the ocean floor.

"Salvage crews will have to remain on site for at least 24 hours and Samsa will be there to monitor the sinking as well," he said.

Samsa had followed safety procedures to avoid unexpected incidents, with concern for "the environment at heart at all times".

"We went beyond the three positions chosen by the Agriculture Department to ensure that we avoided any harm to the environment. When the vessel was sunk there was no sign of oil in the water, which showed that all of it had been drained," he said.

The KwaZulu-Natal department of agriculture and environmental affairs said yesterday it was pleased with the outcome of the operation.

Department spokesman Ncumisa Mafunda said: "From the time that the vessel ran aground in July, we had been in contact with Samsa to ensure the environment's safety. We were mostly concerned about the possibility of dealing with an oil spill, but mop-up operations were successful."

The ship's owners, initially believed to be Nigerian, have still not been located.

Mt Pheonix
IMO 7359503
29,999 dwt
Flag [TZ]


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