The Chinese crude oil carrier, a 333 m-long supertanker, Yuan Hua Hu ran into trouble near Port St Johns on the Eastern Cape coastline earlier this week. She was en route to Angola from Singapore. Emergency rescue and oil spill response teams are on standby.
The South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said on Thursday (May 28), there was no immediate risk to the safety of the crew, the ship or marine environment as a standby salvage tug from Durban now had the oil tanker under “static tow”.
Samsa deputy chief operations officer Capt Vernon Keller said this meant that the tanker had its front anchor line deployed to the sea bed while its stern was secured by cable to the African Marine Solutions (Amsol) salvage vessel Siyanda. This was to help ensure that that it was not blown ashore or swung around by swells or wind along a stretch of coastline notorious for rough weather and numerous shipping accidents and drownings over the centuries.
As reported by Times Live, the ship and its 27 crew members were currently “100% safe” and floating in 35 metres of water.
A much larger rescue tug, the Pacific Dolphin, had been deployed from Cape Town and is due to arrive at the scene early on Saturday.
Capt. Keller said it appeared that the vessel had suffered damage to engine shaft seals and because this damage could not be repaired at sea, it would be necessary to tow it to Durban.
As per Samsa, the vessel isn’t carrying any cargo- but it is nevertheless carrying about 4,000 tonnes of bunker fuel. As a result, an oil spill response company is on standby in Port Elizabeth, while a helicopter team from Cape Town can also reach the scene within six hours.