The 151,279 dwt Smart, Greek-owned bulker, ran aground early yesterday afternoon, having departed from the port at 1410 with a cargo of 147,650 tonnes of coal.
A report from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), quoting chief harbour master Capt. Rufus Lekala, confirmed the loss of the ship: “the vessel has buckled and broken in two and is partially submerged.
Three tugs were deployed to pull the vessel free of the sand bank after she appeared to have been pushed onto it while exiting port under rough seas of 10-metre swells. “At the time of the incident, the vessel was no longer under TNPA pilotage. Three TNPA tugs tried to assist the vessel but to no avail,” he added.
All 23 members of the crew have been airlifted off the vessel, and the grounding is expected to have no economic impact on Richard’s Bay. Entering and leaving of the port has, however, been suspended due to bad weather conditions.
The incident on Monday was the second grounding of a commercial vessel off South Africa after the Kiani Satu bulk carrier ran aground near Buffels Bay on 8 August. The vessel was refloated two days ago.