Update 21 August: Salvage kicks into high gear
Update 20 August -
The MV Smart has fully split in two overnight and authorities are scrambling to put together a plan to offload the fuel oil and cargo from the wreck perched on a sandbar just off a popular surfing beach at Richards Bay, South Africa.
A spokesperson for the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) has said there is an estimated 1,769 tons of fuel oil and 129 tons of diesel on board, but there is no immediate threat of a spill. The salvage will focus on the removal of the fuel first, the spokesperson said.
The ship had just finished loading 147,650 tonnes of coal at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) when she ran aground in 10 meter swells.
The Panamanian-flagged ship is registered to Alpha Marine Corp., Reuters reports. After loading at Richards Bay it was intended to deliver its cargo to a port in China, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Experts from the SA Maritime Safety Authority and salvage company Subtech are currently on board the Smart assessing the situation according to reports.
Earlier Update [AUGUST 19, 2013] -
A bulk carrier has run aground and appears to be breaking up along the east coast of South Africa near Richards Bay.
The 151,000 dwt bulk carrier MV Smart ran aground on a sandbar Monday in 10 meter swells after departing Port Richards Bay. The vessel had finished loading coal at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) earlier Monday.
Photos of the grounded ship show the hull has suffered structural failure at around amidships and is severely sagging.
The National Sea Rescue Institute was alerted of the grounding at about 1:30 p.m. local time. At approximately 4 p.m., the structural integrity of the ship was compromised and the captain gave the order to abandon ship, NSRI said in a statement.
All 23 crew members have been rescued by NSRI helicopter crews.
A source has told us that the vessel started to break in half and at this point may be in two pieces.
SAMSA (South African Maritime safety Authority) are en route to investigate and begin evaluations for salvage, the NSRI statement said.
A local news report said that the vessel was no longer under pilotage and may have experienced engine failure.
The incident comes just as the bulk carrier Kiani Satu was pulled free from a South African beach this weekend, but is believed to be in danger of sinking in deep water.
MV SMART INCIDENT PHOTOS:
South African photographer Daryl Visser captured the following images of the MV Smart as she was leaving the harbor, and before she broke apart yesterday. See more at his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/darylvisserphotography