A ship has overshot its berth, smashing into and destroying a multi-million rand bulk loader in the Durban harbour, it was confirmed on Wednesday.
A National Port Authority pilot was aboard the MV Julian – as is compulsory in the Durban harbour – when it crashed at the bulk terminal, near the the port’s entrance on the Bluff, on Sunday evening.
A well-placed harbour source has put the damage at R100 million, however, it was unclear who would foot the bill as the ship’s master was in charge at the time.
Iain Geldart, managing director of Bulk Connections, the Bidvest company which owns the loader, confirmed the 600 ton, 30 metre-high machine was a “write-off”, but added that there may be some salvageable parts.
He said the Liberian-registered ship overshot Berth 4 as it was arriving to unload its cargo, before hitting the ship loader at Berth 2, at about 7pm.
He declined to put a price on the damage, explaining it would depend on whether they replaced “like with like”. However, he did confirm the bulk loader was a “major investment” and its replacement would cost millions of dollars.
“It’s certainly the worst… like you go into a shopping centre and you come out and your car has been flattened,” he said.
He said no one was hurt in the “serious incident” and that Bulk Connections had put contingency plans in place, with three other loaders continuing operations at the facility.
“It’s business as usual as far as we are concerned,” said Geldart, explaining there would be no halt in operations while a replacement loader was commissioned. This was expected to take eight to 12 months.
Moshe Motlohi, Durban port manager, said in a statement: “Transnet National Ports Authority can confirm that an incident occurred… involving a vessel at the bulk terminal. TNPA is presently conducting an investigation into the incident. At this stage no further comment can be made.”
The ship’s agent, Rennies, was asked to comment, but the operations manager responsible, Selvan Naidoo, referred queries to the branch manager, who was not in the office and did not responded to telephone calls and text messages on Wednesday.
The Hamburg, Germany-owned MV Julian, is a bulk carrier, with a deadweight of about 73,000 tons. It is understood the ship would be undergoing repairs in Durban.
– African News Agency (ANA)