Stricken ship finally towed to Mombasa

Tug boats tow MV Theresa Arctic to the Port of Mombasa. The vessel from Malaysia got stuck in the Indian Ocean waters, off Kilifi last month. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]


Tug boats tow MV Theresa Arctic to the Port of Mombasa. The vessel from Malaysia got stuck in the Indian Ocean waters, off Kilifi last month. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

Kenya Ports Authority’s (KPA) Marine department has successfully refloated the ship that went aground off Kilifi Coast a fortnight ago.

Under the command of Captain William Ruto, the KPA harbour master, the chemical tanker successfully made the journey from Kilifi to Mombasa Port.

In what was a delicate and dangerous operation, seven tug boats were used to assist the vessel which was laden with 46,000 tonnes of vegetable oil.

KPA Spokesman Benard Osero told The Standard that they were delighted after the successful salvage operation.

‘’It took longer than expected. We needed to be extremely cautious so as not to cause damage to the vessel and the fragile marine ecosystem around it. We are extremely happy with our marine team and all stakeholders who were involved in the exercise,” Mr Osero said.

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Separately, sources familiar with the salvage operation said that a sister ship brought in to help in the salvage work took in 12,000 litres of oil while the rest remained in the ill-fated vessel as it was towed to Mombasa Port.

Tried-and-tested

The consigment belongs to Kenyan and Ugandan vegetable oil manufacturers.

Mombasa-based maritime analyst Andrew Mwangura said the salvage operation followed a tried-and-tested method of first stabilising the vessel by making it light and then refloating it by rebalancing ballast tanks and shifting cargo.

The operation was complicated by rough weather.

“The salvage team had to put contingent measures in place to mitigate pollution risks as the local community’s water source intake was barely less than 200 metres away from the stranding site,” Mr Mwangura said.

He lauded KPA for successfully undertaking the operation.

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A powerful tug boat flying an Omani flag led the tow line from the front as the vessel headed to Mombasa harbour Thursday afternoon.

Mwangura explained that ship grounding occurs when the bottom of the ship’s hull scrapes through the ocean-bed.

“This type of accident has a lot of impact on the ship’s hull and the oceanic area where the grounding occurs,” he said.

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