Direct Line, the company that chartered the “Southern Phoenix” said the vessel had 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, the 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 the “Southern Phoenix” was towed towards a safer position while it continued to take on more water.
It was owned and operated by Cruz Holdings but chartered by Pacific Direct Line to transport cargo to Tarawa, Kiribati. Salvage experts from Australia were engaged by the ship’s owners and had taken over operations. The salvage team would work on removing the ship and containers. The Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) used absorbent pads around the submerged ship to remove minor oil spillage which had been contained by the deployed oil spill booms. The MSAF continued to closely monitor the situation and ensure the safety of the marine environment.
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 continued. There was no timeframe regarding the salvage work.
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Source: Vessel Tracker