Drones used to ensure Durban's port is safe after storm unberths ships

A screenshot of a container-laden ship that was blown into the Durban harbour mouth blocking it. Image Supplied

A screenshot of a container-laden ship that was blown into the Durban harbour mouth blocking it. Image Supplied

Three vessels were grounded, containers were blown into the bay and mooring lines were broken in the channel in the Port of Durban on Monday, the Transnet National Ports Authority said in a statement.

The operation involved eight tugboats and lasted almost three hours.

Bunkering operations are up and running at Durban in South Africa following storms earlier in the week. "Our immediate focus is to continue with the implementation of the recovery operations", said TNPA Chief Executive Shulami Qalinge. "This was an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of South Africa's locally trained marine resources and the crew involved certainly outshone themselves".

Three vessels that grounded in the Port of Durban have been refloated, including the containership MSC Ines that blocked the entrance to the port. Five tugs successfully towed the 9,115-TEU, 348.5 metre vessel to safety.

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Sounding surveys indicate that there is some obstruction on the seabed that could pose a risk to navigation. Engineering teams aided by aerial drones were conducting physical assessments of affected port buildings and infrastructure to assist in quantifying the damage.

Motlohi could not estimate when the port would be opened again but said it is unlikely it will open on Wednesday.

TNPA expected operations to return to normal by midday on Thursday.

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