The Kianu Satu, the cargo ship that ran aground on Knysna’s coast and was re-floated on Monday after spilling up to 70 tons of oil, is now sinking with her remaining oil, approximately 260 tons, on board.
Captain Nigel Campbell (SAMSA) said that ship has faced heavy seas and was taking on water. At a rate of 6 tons per day, it will be a slow sinking. At 100 nautical miles (180km) south of Knysna, she is halfway across South Africa’s sea territory, over deep water. The salvors have secured the remaining tanks so no oil is expected to escape now. It will eventually but that could take anything from “5 to 20 years”. When it does happen, it will likely be gradual, giving time for the implementation of a plan to pump the oil to a ship on the surface. The question on the public’s mind would undoubtedly be, “Why not pump it as soon as conditions are optimal?”
Campbell offered another comfort, that the ship’s owners remain liable.
It’s a terribly disappointing situation after a massive, 11-day effort by salvors, the Smit Amandla tug crew, other emergency crews and Knysna Municipal staff.
For some, there is no rest. Captain Campbell and South Africa face the next challenge as the 273m bulk carrier, the MV Smart, lost a battle against 10m waves as she left the port and is currently breaking up off the shore of Richard’s Bay. SAMSA may be holding up their end but, as Knysna discovered, and Richard’s Bay may soon discover, the Fisheries Department was a total letdown.