Owners Of Sunken Vessel In Suva Harbor Work To Salvage Containers, Prevent Oil Leaks

Cause of MV South Phoenix's sinking not yet confirmed; investigation underway

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 10, 2017) – Cruz Holdings, the owners of sunken cargo ship MV Southern Phoenix are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the vessel.

Cruz Holdings confirmed they had activated tugs and barges to collect the containers floating in the harbour.

"The cause of this incident is unknown at this time, and the matter is being looked into and will be investigated by the company and the relevant authorities," Cruz Holdings said in a statement.

While the owners are tightlipped on how the ship sank, it said after completion of loading at the port on Friday night, the vessel developed a list to port, and later sank after being moved from the main wharf.

"The company has also engaged commercial divers to seal all vents in order to minimise oil and fuel spillage in the harbour," the owners said.

The Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd CEO Vajira Piyasena had said that 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.

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.

[PIR editor's note: On May 10, 2017 Fiji Times reported that 'A preliminary assessment carried out by the Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd (FPCL) has confirmed minor oil seepage from the hydraulics and diesel fuel of the sunken cargo ship MV Southern Phoenix at the Suva harbour. ... FPCL said divers from the Dive Centre continued to undertake their assessments to further ascertain any possibility of a major oil spill. ... While minor oil seepage from the hydraulics and diesel fuel has been confirmed, FPCL said it was not a major threat to the environment.']

"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.

Fiji Times Online.
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