Crude carrier in trouble off South African coast

Location of crude carrier Yuan Hua Hu. Credit: IHS Markit's AISLive Ship Tracking

A large crude carrier, Yuan Hua Hu, is reported to be in distress off South Africa’s Wild Coast, part of the Eastern Cape. The Chinese-flagged 308,663 dwt tanker was built in 2015 and is on route to Kaombo, Angola.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) issued a statement on 27 May, saying the vessel was safely anchored 1.9 km off Dome Bluff on the outskirts of Port St. Johns and was being monitored by the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC). The tanker is not carrying any cargo. All 27 crew on board was reported to be safe and no injuries have been reported.

The African Marine Solutions’ (AMSOL) tug, Siyanda, was deployed from Durban about 350 km east of Port St. Johns at 5:40 am on 27 May and was expected to arrive on scene at 8 pm local time. “It will act as a standby tug until the arrival of the emergency tow vessel [ETV], which was deployed from Cape Town this morning with an experienced salvage master on board. The ETV is due to arrive at the tanker within 48 hours,” the statement said.

In addition, the National Sea Rescue Institute’s (NSRI’s) Durban station 5, Port Edward station 32, Shelly Beach station 20, Rocky Bay station 39, East London station 7, and Port St. Johns auxiliary station 28 were placed on alert by MRCC at 7 am, and remain on high alert. NSRI rescue swimmers have also been placed on alert by MRCC.

A Durban Transnet National Ports Authority helicopter was on standby throughout the night.

The Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries has placed its Tier 1 Oil Pollution Response team on alert, while a team from Smit International Salvage is also on standby, ready to be deployed from Cape Town.

SAMSA remains in contact with the shipowner representatives and the master, who is providing their full co-operation to contain the threat to the South African coastline.

SAMSA issued an updated situation report on Yua Hua Hu this afternoon, 28 May.

The vessel remains securely anchored in 35 metres of water just off Port St. Johns, and SAMSA confirms the vessel’s anchor is holding.

The AMSOL tug, Siyanda secured a tow to the stern of the tanker last night and is currently static towing the tanker while she is at anchor. A larger tug, the Pacific Dolphin, with a bollard pull of 220 tonnes, is due to arrive on Saturday, and will tow the tanker to the Port of Durban for repairs to her main engine and stern tube.