MV Smart Grounding: Owners Rule Out Mechanical Failure… Before Ship Hit Bottom

Mike Schuler
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September 9, 2013

The MV Smart seen in two halves in Richards Bay, South Africa. Image courtesy Subtech Group

Owners of the stricken MV Smart say that there is no evidence to suggest that mechanical or structural failure contributed to the ship breaking up outside Richards Bay, South Africa… at least not prior to when the fully laden vessel’s stern slammed into the seabed as she left port in heavy swells.

As gCaptain has reported, the 151,279 DWT bulk carrier ran aground and eventually broke August 19th as she departed Port of Richards Bay laden with 147,650 tons of coal.

In a statement issued Sunday, owners of the MV Smart said that on the basis of the investigations carried out so far, the cause of grounding appears to be a result of slamming the vessel’s stern on the sandy bottom while encountering exceptional swells- reportedly up to 10 meters. The statement said that there is no current evidence to suggest failure of vessel engines and/or steering until the grounding occurred and that the vessel was in sound structural condition upon her departure from the port.

Media reports following the incident said that the vessel seemed to suffer from a loss of power prior to coming to rest on a beach just outside the harbor, but yesterday’s statement confirmed rumors (see comments section) that the ship did in fact suffer extensive damages to her hull and steering gear only after hitting bottom first.

Following the incident, the port of Richards Bay was immediately closed by the harbor authorities on account of severe weather conditions and heavy swells.

Last week salvage crews completed the removal of roughly 1,700 tons of heavy fuel oil from the vessel.

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