The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), has confirmed that it is investigating the loss of as many as 23 containers overboard from the MSC Palak in Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth, located in South Africa’s Eastern Cape region.
The 9,411-TEU MSC Palak was at anchor riding out heavy weather when the incident took place just before midnight on Tuesday, July 14.
MSC Palak, a container vessel, had sailed out of the Port of Ngqura at 12:00 on the 13th of July, 2020, due to high winds and anchored in Number 2 anchorage to ride out the heavy weather.
On the 13th and 14th of July, 2020, a severe storm passed the South African coast, causing heavy weather in Algoa Bay. The swell height measured in Algoa Bay was approximately 3.5m, SAMSA reported in a statement.
“At 23:37, on the 14th of July, 2020, a report was received from Port Control that the MSC Palak had lost containers overboard while at anchor,” the statement reads.
The initial assessment was that six containers had fallen overboard and sank. During an overflight at first light the following day, however, it was confirmed that 23 containers were lost overboard.
A fishing vessel reported on that they witnessed containers drifting approximately 7 nautical miles south of where the containers were lost.
The Port of Ngqura was closed for vessel traffic due to risk that some containers may have sunk in the approach channel
“An aerial surveillance flight was arranged by the owners to locate any drifting containers that may pose a hazard to shipping. SAMSA requests the public to remain vigilant and report any containers sighted to SAMSA,” the organization said.
This incident marks the latest overboard container incident reported in the last two months in South Africa.
In late May, the APL England lost about 50 containers overboard off the coast of Syndey, Australia, resulting in charges against the ship’s master. About a month later, a Liberian-flagged container ship lost three containers overboard off the coast of Western Australia while on June 22, a Hawaiian interisland barge lost more than 20 containers overboard off the coast of Hilo.