With the first phase of the MV Smart salvage operations complete, authorities are turning their attention to removing the forward end of the bulk carrier.

The aft end of the vessel, which ran aground shortly after leaving the Port of Richards Bay in August, was last Saturday towed and sunk in about 1000m deeper water.

SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) spokesperson, Capt Saroor Ali, said they had to ensure that there was no pollution during the long process.

He said a tender had now been issued to international companies to try and salvage the front half of the ship. “We have invited tenders from national and international companies and once they have made submissions (bids) we will then carefully scrutinise them, and do risks assessments to see which methodology was the best,” he said.

The coal-carrying vessel ran aground at Richards Bay carrying 147650 tons of coal at the port’s entrance channel in August.

After wide consultation, the Department of Environmental Affairs gave approval for the 10000 tons of coal, considered inert and relatively harmless, to be dumped alongside the vessel. All oil on board – an estimated 1769 tons of fuel oil and 129 tons of diesel – was removed without spillage


Ali said: “The vessel was insured with the north of England, and their representatives are here. So there is no cost to the state, to Samsa or to the taxpayer,” he said.

He said during the salvage process, they will continue to ensure that there was no pollution and there was no danger to marine life.

Ali indicated that the last process could be finalised in two weeks.

“We have so far received bids from five companies. We will be meeting with their representatives and choose the best. So far no coal washed onto the beaches and we are grateful.”

He said so far it has been a very successful exercise: “There has not been any loss of life or injuries. The wreck is not causing any harm to people coming to the beach and so we are happy,” Ali said.