The process to appoint the contractor for the removal of the wrecked fishing vessel, the ELKE M whichran aground on Saturday 06 January 2024 in Port St Francis, is nearing completion. The vessel had 24 crew and they were all brought to safety after they abandoned ship.

A contractor Resolve Marine has been identified and the process of appointing is underway subject to conclusion of discussions with authorities.

This removal operation, necessitated by the vessel’s grounding and its position in an environmentally sensitive area, will initially concentrate on reduction of the wreck to the waterline level, followed by a process to split the sub-sea section into multiple sections for scuttling. Given the complexity and sensitivity of the task, the operation is expected to take at least two months, with a targeted completion before the onset of the winter season.

The costs for the whole operation are covered by the Protection and Indemnity Club (P&I Club) as an insurer.

In the lead-up to this phase, favourable weather and sea conditions have enabled the removal of more than 27,000 litres of marine fuel from the vessel. The incident management team, aided by helicopter assistance, had prioritized the removal of remaining fuel and non-oil pollutants, successfully transferring these to designated disposal sites.

Pollutants and Wreck Removal Directives have been issued in line with the Wreck and Salvage Act and the Marine Pollution (Control & Civil Liability) Act, underscoring the commitment to environmental safety and compliance throughout this operation.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) continues to oversee the operation, in close collaboration with the Incident Management Structure (IMS). This collaborative effort involves the vessel’s owners, the insurers (P&I Club), municipal officials, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), environmental management authorities and organizations, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and the National Department of Transport.

SAMSA recognizes the environmental challenges posed by the wreck, appreciates the great effort made to date to prevent pollution and is fully committed to conducting the removal operation with outmost efficiency and environmental sensitivity. SAMSA will continue to provide updates as the operation progresses.

Issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

For any further information please contact Tebogo Ramatjie on 0673255276