Vessel crashes onto rocks in rough seas

The fishing vessel, weighing 300 tonnes, tore loose from its moorings last Tuesday night during one of the hardest wind storms in years, and ran the coastline where it crashed into embankment of rocks about 180 metres from the popular fishing beach at “Vierkantklip” outside of Swakopmund.

The “Kolmanskop”, which forms part of Novanam’s fleet of vessels, has been out of operation for two years and was moored inside Namport port limits.

Despite the sophisticated Namport radar system the 30-metre ship slipped off into the night, and was carried off by an angry sea.

The runaway ship which was unmanned has been described as something out of a Hollywood movie, and has commanded a team of diving and marine specialists as well as salvage contractors to perform a “miracle.”

The ship is impaled on rocks and is being cradled at present making it difficult to move the vessel. Divers have said that they cannot see the damage, but they suspect that the vessel took a “hammering” when it hit the rocky crest.

Water is seeping into the engine room, causing the ship to lean over on to its side which is all the more reason to worry.

A representative of Novaship Namibia, Willie Prosser, who is the acting agent for the vessel owner Novanam, said that they are hoping to re-float the vessel but says right now they are doing everything possible to make sure that the vessel is environment-friendly, by first removing the diesel and lubricants from the trawler.

“It is too early to speculate what exactly is going to happen, but we will not leave it sitting on the rocks, and, in the event of it not being floated, the insurance people will scrap it,” said Prosser

Meanwhile, the logistics in setting up a system to pump out the fuel has become a nightmare, as heavy cranes and other machinery are trying to manoeuvre in the soft beach sand.

Cable ropes have been cast to the vessel to set up an infrastructure and a pulley system has been rigged to get the machinery and pumps on deck. The first pump was inched across a rough sea onto the vessel early on Thursday afternoon.

Divers are making their way to and from the vessel in shifts of four, where the men are working the pumps and machinery.

“We will need to do a proper assessment of the damage, and the final modus operandi,” said Prosser .

August 2006
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