Saturday, July 30, 2011

Grounded Phoenix Press Release

MT Phoenix, now even more mystery surrounds the stricken vessel.
The operations continue to remove the pollutants from the vessel and to date we can
report the following

• All the drums containing lube oils, grease and other rubbish from the decks have
been flown ashore;
• Pumping of the fuel commenced yesterday to the bladders ashore and then to the
road tankers, it is estimated that some 50 tonnes were taken off;
• The heavy duty pumps finally arrived, having been delayed when the road
transport became stuck in the snow; and were flown on board this morning; this
has increase the pumping rate to approximately 100 tonnes per hour;
• The operation is being slowed due to slower rate of pumping the bladders to the
road tankers against a 40 metre head;
• If the current rate is maintained removal of the fuel should be completed on
Sunday 31 July;
• The work of strengthening the bow is on-going and preparations are being made
to connect the Smit Amandla to the Phoenix before last light today. This is not
an attempt to tow the vessel off the rocks but to stabilize the vessel and stop her
moving on the rocks.

During the operation yesterday the tug Mahaweli towing the bulk carrier Asma 1 to
scrap, requested assistance 24 nautical miles east of Durban. The Smit Amandla was
scrambled to stand by until the Mahaweli resolved her main engine problems. The
weather conditions atrocious with gale force south westerly winds with 8 metre swells.
When the Mahweli regained her engine power the tug and tow were ordered to clear the
coast. The Smit Amanda started her return to the Phoenix.

We have been asked to comment on why with the Smit Amandla in attendance did the
Phoenix ground and was this an “insurance job”. The following facts are now in our

  • The Smit Amandla fired 8 rocket lines to the Phoenix while attempting to reconnect, 6 of these lines have been found on board the Phoenix;
  • Two messenger lines were then put on board the Phoenix in order to allow them to pull the towing gear on board. The Phoenix reported that on both occasions the messenger rope “slipped off” the drum end of the winch. Various maritime experts have been consulted and none of them can recall this happening in previous operations, in these conditions it is possible that the messenger line would part.
  •  The Master of the Smit Amandla had to instruct the Master of the Phoenix to pay out more anchor cable when the vessel started dragging. A very junior officer knows that this is the first action that is taken when a vessel starts dragging anchor.

It would not be the first time that an unscrupulous ship owner was prepared to sacrifice a
vessel in attempt to realise the insured value.

The Smit Amandla Marine salvage crew on board have been suspicious that there is still
one person still on board, all the crew were accounted for when they were evacuated
from the vessel. Last night a medical kit was left in the accommodation prior to the
salvage team being flown ashore. This morning some of the medication was missing. As
the salvage team are totally consumed in removing the fuel from the vessel, the South
African Police Services will be requested to search the vessel. It is not unusual for vessels
coming from West Africa to have stowaways on board.

Contrary to recent newspaper reports the documentation in our possession indicates that
the owners of the vessel are either A & L Shipping Inc. of Panama or A & L Shipping of
Belize. We have also been contacted by Lloyds Casualty Intelligence of London as they
can find no records of the Phoenix, however a vessel of the same type, size and name was
scrapped in India in November 2010.

The vast majority of Sheffield Beach residents have been fully supportive of the effort
being extended to avoid a massive pollution incident which has led to disruption to their

SAMSA and the salvage team would especially want to salute Mr & Mrs Don and
Carolyn Spier, the vessel is beached directly opposite her house. She has opened her
house to the salvage team and her lounge is the operations centre, they are also being
offered food and coffee continuously. The fuel lines run through her garden into her
house and then to the road tankers. This unselfish gesture is making a difficult operation
much easier and we are extremely grateful for her support.

Capt. N.T.Campbell

Regional Manager: Southern Region

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tanker Ship Wrecked at Sheffield Beach on the North Coast

Bulk Tanker "Phoenix" aground on Sheffield Beach.
 The carrier the 'Phoenix' was en-route to India to be scraped when they broke anchor late on Monday afternoon. The vessel obviously was having mechanical problems and the help of a salvage tug Smit Amandla was called in to try and pull the ship out to sea.

The stormy seas and heavy winds made the NSRI's job impossible and the help of Subtech's salvage crew came to assist. At around 9am this morning it looked like the tug was pulling the Phoenix shipwreck out to sea. What happened after that is still not known, but by 11am the Phoenix was wrecked on the rocky shelf's of Sheffield beach just north of Salt Rock.

It was quiet a thing to watch the spray from the waves blow right over the helicopters as they came in and air lifted the crew from the vessel. Fortunately there have been no reports that I know of of any major injuries and all the crew were evacuated safely.
The massive bulk carrier now a major feature at Sheffield Beach
 Fortunately because the ship was being decommissioned it was not caring any cargo or substances other than its own fuel and oil. Hopefully this will be able to get removed from the ship before it causes any environmental problems. Not that a couple thousand tonne ship on a pristine beach is not an environmental disaster. One wonders if there is any hope of being able to haul the ship off the rocks and out to sea?

The Phoenix right on our Garrick Spot!

So what now, will Sheffield have a permanent new horizon? With such a large vessel that is probably full of holes by now the chances are probably slim that it is going anywhere.
I suppose we should look on the bright side that its not pouring oil everywhere, and who knows maybe it will form a cooking wave.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Spearfishing the Transkei

Richard Leonard popping his Daga Cherry
Spearfishing the Transkei for the first time is always an experience one does not forget. My mate Richard Leonard the director of the OneFish DvD we did last year has just come back from his first trip in the Kei.
From the sounds of things they got some class fish, including Rich getting his first Daga Salmon and a nice one at that.
Daryl with a trophy Steenbras
Rich was fortunate to go up with some mates that really know the place well, which translated into some very special fish. It also sounds like they got lucky with the vis and weather ... something that does not always come together down there.
A frame grab off the some of their video footage of the Steenbras.
I am hoping to head down to the Kei some time soon. There is the Border Open which will be in November, which is later than usual. That means there probably wont be Steenbras around but the Cracker should be thick. If you want to go down down load the Border Open Entry Form


Monday, July 18, 2011

Durban Spearfishing Cooks

21+ Orang Spot Grouper
There is a reason that at this time of the year some of KZN's best divers stay at home an dive the Durban basin. The water is all ways good but when you find the fish ... you find the fish!
This past week while the North Coast was murky and not very pleasant, Durban had good water and the fish came on. But this is not for your doppie diver most of the diving is between 26 and 30m and even if you can dive that depth you need to beat guys like Brod, Staats and G-Lem to the spot ..... not lightly.

With Dagga the main course, and huge shoals of Grunter as the side dish its no surprise that there were more than a few guys not at work last week Even the odd Couta came out off the Bluff side. But the fish of the week must go to Brod for a 21+kg Orange Spot Grouper, that is a fantastic fish in any water let alone Durban!

G-Lem and a good Dagga, with some more fish on the floor.
It is a pity the conditions did not hold for the weekend and the Hibiscus Gamefish Comp. Most guys decided to dive the shoal area and it was just one of those days when the fish were not there. The winning fish landed up being a Garrick and not too many other decent fish being weighed.

This week looks promising, the big east swell came and wrecked the good vis that moved in over the weekend. Hopefully it will subside and give us a gap to get in.


Monday, July 11, 2011

King of the Coast

If this was a competition Brod would be 'King of the Coast'
While the rest of us were pondering whether the vis was ok and swell had dropped enough. Brod was putting his spear into a trophy of note! Brod ..being Brod found some half decent or half siff (depends on how you see you cup)  water on a small reef he sneaks out to when no one is looking.

Brod recalls the hunt saying that there were about 10 fish in the shoal all around the same size, eventually he just picked one. Now if you know Brod that means that there was a lot more to the story ... it probably had something to do with some ridiculous bottom time in kuk water or something.

So if you were wondering what a 29.5kg Couta looks like have a good loooook. Almost as tall as Brod and he's no shorty and my guess is that the fish is probably a 32 -34 pant size around the midriff, . One fat ass fish!!!

Weldone Brod my books so far you are 'King of the Coast'


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mr Price Pro Ballito 2011

Nat Young making an unbelievable barrel at Bog Bay.
Yesterday saw the start of the Mr Price Pro Ballito, the conditions were epic and probably one of the best days we have seen in a very long time. Each heat was absolutely mind blowing, the guys were getting some of the sickest barrels across Surfers Point.
Some contestant getting barreled of his nut at Surfers Point Pic M Adjes
While the contest was going on there was an all cast side show going down at Bog Bay to the south. It was hard to pull away from watching the 'Pro' but when you saw what was going down at Bog it made Modern Collective seem a little dusty. Added to that Bog was heavy ..very heavy. And guys like John John and Nat Young were showing everyone up. I have some sequences with John John smacking the lip and then doing a 12ft air drop with a gaping monster barrel coming down.

The high light of the whole sesh was watching Nat get a monster backhand pit that has to be one of the most insane things I have ever seen. The wave broke over him at the top of the point and he disappeared into the foam ball. I stopped swimming thinking that he was history. But next thing he pulls through the foam ball and sets up inside the sickest pit I have seen in years. Because I stopped swimming I was a little out of position but got some great wide pics of the barrel. (pic above) I also got the video of the barrle which is now on my phone and gets played over and over and over!

For those of you who missed the action yesterday here is the Youtube highlights of the day:

The only disappointing thing was them running the last 2 heats in the wind. Which i felt was so unnecessary as there is loads of good surfing coming. Jordy surfed the last heat and got so skunked it wasn't funny. I think every one was so keen to see him surf they put the heat in. But it was a total waste, the waves crapped out and it was a dud heat.

Never the less the next few days have got some great conditions so I am sure the action will be hot!