Pacific Direct Line Ship Sinks in Suva Wharf; Ballast Tanks Blamed

MV Southern Phoenix was to transport cargo to Tarawa, Kiribati

By Alisi Vucago

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 9, 2017) – Pacific Direct Line, the company that chartered the now sunken MV Southern Phoenix, says the vessel had started to take on water while awaiting departure at the Kings Wharf in Suva on Saturday.

In a letter to customers, Pacific Direct Line said the vessel started to take on water in its wing ballast tanks after completing cargo operations and fuel bunkering.

"The crew was unable to rectify the situation as the vessel continued to take on more water, further listing to the port side," Pacific Direct Line said.

"For the safety of the crew, integrity of Suva wharf and the safety of the Suva harbour users, the crew had to evacuate, the lines were cut and MV Southern Phoenix was towed towards a safer position while it continued to take on more water."

The vessel later sunk in the Suva Harbour.

It was owned and operated by Cruz Holdings but chartered by Pacific Direct Line to transport cargo to Tarawa, Kiribati.

Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd CEO Vajira Piyasena said salvage experts from Australia who were engaged by the ship's owners had taken over operations.

Mr Piyasena said the salvage team would work on removing the ship and containers.

Yesterday, the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) said they had used absorbent pads around the submerged MV Southern Phoenix to remove minor oil spillage which had been contained by the deployed oil spill booms.

"MSAF will continue to closely monitor the situation and ensure the safety of the marine environment," MSAF CEO John Tunidau said.

Two Fiji coastal navigational warnings were also issued by MSAF to notify ship operators and owners including mariners of a temporary exclusion zone around the areas surrounding the sunken ship.

FPCL officers and police patrol boats continue to monitor the situation at the King's Wharf as investigations continue.

Cargo on board the sunken vessel included 183 metric tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 30 metric tonnes of medium diesel oil, 179 containers, break bulk cargo and other cargo.

Fiji Times Online.
Copyright © 2017 Fiji Times Online. All Rights Reserved

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