Against dwindling odds, 9 days later, and with a mega storm brewing, SAMSA and a massive emergency crew got the Kianu Satu afloat at 1020am this morning (Saturday, August 17)!
The ship and it’s oil that has threatened Knysna is currently 24km offshore and above 90m of water. That, in itself, is a victory that so many people have being working so hard to achieve BUT as one danger ends so another begins.
Captain Nigel Campbell (SAMSA) is proud of his team but considers the next 48hrs critical. The helicopter crew estimates the swell to be a massive 7-8 metres (20-25 feet). The powerful tug boat, the Smit Amandla, which has finally pulled the Kiani Satu off the reefs of Knysna, is ploughing bow deep into an angry Indian Ocean. The tow rope that attaches it to the injured cargo ship was a temporary measure that now has to outlast the storm. Incredibly, 10 men are aboard, and monitoring, the Kiani Satu. They will hold on until last light when a helicopter and its crew will have to brave 45 knot winds to winch them aboard towards the safety of the Knysna shore. Night will have the storm for company.
The plan to airlift 2 tons of oil at a time worked but, after only 8 tons of oil was removed, darkness put an temporary end to their efforts. That leaves approximately 252-287 tons of oil aboard a cracked ship that can still break apart.
It’s appropriate that i blog this with emotion and emphasis. The saying “so close but so far” has deep meaning. And with that, OUR (i’m sure Knysna will agree) deepest well wishes for the talented and brave people that are still working to protect our environmentally sensitive coastline…our home!