Fast action saves port from shipping crisis
http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000019785&cid=464&Published on 06/Oct./2010
By Patrick Beja
There was panic in the maritime industry this week when a naval ship hit a heap of sand and got stuck at Mombasa port entrance.
In the 9.30 am incident, on Monday, authorities moved quickly to rescue the vessel as they feared it could sink and block the main shipping lane or spill oil and damage the delicate marine environment.
The Turkish vessel christened Gokceada touched ground off Mama Ngina drive at about 10 am as it sailed off, catching maritime authorities off guard.
Five tug-boats including an anti-pollution vessel were dispatched to the scene to rescue the naval vessel labelled F494.
After about an hour of rescue, the naval ship was towed back to the port where it has stayed for four days taking supplies.
He, however, said the ship was not damaged. It was reportedly sailing out to Dar es
During the towing, a KPA tug Simba II pushed from behind, while another christened El-Lamy was in the front pulling. The tugs were tied to the naval vessel with a chain.
The naval vessel is part of many others protecting shipping off the Coast of Somalia from pirate attacks. Maritime sources said the ship would have caused a major shipping crisis if it sunk on the spot as that was the entrance to the port.
"The channel is narrow and the naval ship could have blocked other ships if the rescue mission could have delayed," said the source.
The incident served as a reminder of another incident early this year in which a ship sent panic in maritime authority after it leant to one side. Hundreds of onlookers gathered on both sides of the Kilindini channel to watch the mishap as many feared it could sink and block the shipping route.
A fortnight ago, Transport minister Mr Amos Kimunya told maritime stakeholders in Mombasa that the construction of Lamu port was urgent because the Kilindini channel leading to Mombasa port was narrow and could lead to a shipping disaster if blocked accidentally by a ship.
The minister said since Kenya served landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, it was necessary to get an alternative seaport at Lamu.
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