Weekly Press Review – 20 September 2013

South African maritime salvors have made the headlines this week with the righting of the Costa Concordia cruise ship from the Italian reef where it has been stuck for well over a year. It’s a pleasure to see the local as well as international media focus this operation has generated.

Never before has such a large vessel been righted. The salvage team was headed by Capetonian, Nick Sloane. Sloane previously worked for Smit Amandla Marine and was salvage master on many wrecks along our shores, but the Costa Concordia represents his first battle against a passenger ship, and particularly one of this size. Those in the know credit him as being the man to get the job done. Dave Murray of Smit Amandla Marine was quoted saying, “A job like this, most people would run a mile, but for Nick it’s a challenge, and he thrives on challenge.”

After a 19-hour operation, and many months of preparation, the vessel was righted. “I am relieved. It was a bit of a roller-coaster. The scale of it is something we’ve never seen before,” said Sloane.

This serves as another example of individuals from South Africa’s maritime industry making waves in other countries and leading the way forward. And the full operation included the input from many more South African individuals as well as companies.

Another Capetonian in the news this week is innovator Alan Fleming, who has created a fish farm in a shipping container. We have seen these large containers being recycled for many interesting purposes before, but never as a fish farm and this innovation has made it to the final round of a global competition.

The farm produces four tons of fish per year and has been selected as a finalist in the Siemens Stiftung’s Empowering People Award. The winner is to be announced next month.

Fleming said that he is overjoyed. “It is a prestigious award recognised globally.”

Weekly Press Review – 16 August 2013

The Fisheries Department is back in the hot seat this week (again) with officials again being criticised for still not getting the country’s research and patrol vessels back in the water.

Acting Fisheries Department deputy director-general, Desmond Stevens had the rather unenviable task of updating parliament on the status of the vessels and assured those present that both the Ruth First and Victoria Mxenge were ready for action and merely waiting seaworthy certificates from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and that the Lilian Ngoyi would be ready to sail by the end of September. Various MPs stated that they would be waiting on the dock at Simon’s Town to board the vessel on the promised date.

Let us hope that the Fisheries Department can deliver this time. It would seem that the pressure is finally on.

The stranded Kiani Satu has remained in the press all week as all attempts to refloat the vessel, still stranded off the coast of Buffels Bay, have thus far failed. According to Captain Nigel Campbell, responsible for overseeing the salvage operation for SAMSA, it is the strong swell due to harsh weather conditions that is hampering the refloating process.

Obviously the oil that is still leaking from the damaged vessel remains a cause for concern and Parliament’s portfolio committee has called for harsher penalties to be imposed on those responsible for the pollution of local waters in an attempt to protect fish and marine life resources.

This is something that could really go a long way towards protecting our coastline. Let us hope that the powers that be are able to come up with a plan that can be implemented fairly and quickly.

There was also some maritime drama off the coast of Robben Island this week, as the crew of the fishing trawler Claremont, had to be rescued after the vessel crashed into the rocks along the island’s coastline.

The rescue operation was carried out over four hours by the NSRI and all 12 crew members were safely brought back to shore. Another successful NSRI operation.

It seems that the salvage season has started in Cape Town.