Update: Barges Aground, South African Coast
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Update: Barges Aground, South African Coast


The barge GTO XVIV is battered against rocks south of the Knysna Heads after the tow with the tug HAKO 18 was lost in heavy seas yesterday. Picture by Andrew Aveley/NSRI Knysna.


The barge MARGARET aground near Jacobsbaai on the west coast yesterday. Picture courtesy Colin Clegg.

It has been a couple of days of drama along the Cape coast as a series of cold fronts moved across South Africa, bringing high seas reaching 9 metres and strong gale force winds. Two barges have gone aground and three ships narrowly missed the same fate.

The unmanned barge MARGARET which is loaded with a cargo of 13 river barge hulls built in China and destined for Rotterdam, has gone aground in heavy seas along a rocky shore at Jacobs Baai north of Saldanha Bay.

The barge was being towed by the tug SALVALIANT when the tow was lost. Despite efforts by the tug to reconnect the tow the barge went aground in the early hours of yesterday morning (Wednesday).

Earlier in June the Salvaliant and Margaret put into Durban harbour for repairs and supplies. The combination sailed and then later returned to port before heading off on the next leg to Europe, which has ended so prematurely on the west coast.

In a second incident on South Africa’s south-east coast another barge, GTO XVIV has run aground at Three Sisters Rocks, west of the Knysna Heads. According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Singapore registered tug Hako 18 was on passage from Maputo to Port Harcourt, Nigeria, towing the barges GTO XXIX and GTO XXIV when heavy weather was encountered. The barges are owned by a Dutch company.

The barges are carrying construction equipment and were unmanned. There are no pollutants onboard.

At approximately 02h30 on 24 June the tow wire to the barge GTO XXIV parted. The Smit Amandla Marine tug Pentow Skua had been mobilized from Mossel Bay to assist the Hako 18 some eight hours earlier. Despite the best efforts of the Master of the Pentow Skua to connect to the drifting barge this was not possible due to the adverse weather conditions.

The barge subsequently grounded near Three Sisters Rocks to the west of the Knysna Heads in the vicinity of Brenton. Photographic evidence reveals the barge as having broken its back against the rocks.

A senior SAMSA surveyor is currently at the scene.

The owners of the barge have been instructed, in terms of the Wreck and Salvage Act, to remove the wreck. The wreck removal plan will have to be approved by SAMSA who will also monitor progress and adherence to the requirements of the plan.

In yesterday’s News Bulletin we reported on the near miss for the capesize bulker KIRAN, which lost engine power shortly after sailing from Saldanha Bay with a full load of iron ore. In danger of going aground near Slangkop on the Cape Peninsular the ship was rescued by the timely arrival of the salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA which took her in tow to a safe position away from the coast.

Another bulker, the DOCERIVER (79,184-gt, built 1986) also had a narrow escape when she dragged her anchors in Table Bay. Shortly before going onto the beach her crew managed to get the engines running and the ship slowly made her way back into Table Bay, where she was joined by the tug INDOMITABLE which had sailed from Cape Town harbour to assist.

According to news reports a third ship, VIKING EAGLE (18,327-gt, built 2006) was also in difficulty off the Cape Town coast in the wild seas battering the Cape coast. No details of this incident are available and the ship obviously made her way to safety.


Pictures by Andrew Aveley/NSRI Knysna