PIC: There she blows as barge goes

Published Mar 5, 2010


With an explosion that rocked Jacobsbaai, the massive barge carrier Margaret, which was a new vessel when she ran aground off the Cape West Coast, in June last year, was reduced to a smouldering wreck almost half her original size.

According to the salvors, the explosion tipped into the sea the top six river barges the Margaret was carrying as cargo. The barges were salvaged.

"She looks totally different now," said the head of salvors Smit Amandla Marine, Dave Main.

He said the explosion had dropped the vessel from a height of 50m to 30m and had allowed the barges to slide off and got the dry dock walls off. He said though some barges would be damaged at least two would be "okay".

The Margaret, which was built in China, was being towed from the shipyard to the Netherlands when the tow rope broke in a storm near Saldanha Bay on June 24.

The eight-storey-high barge was carrying 12 river barges and two floating drydocks, and was estimated to be worth about R300m.

Its Dutch owner spent R21m trying to salvage the barge before he ran out of money.

- Durban blasting expert Charles Mitchell died last week after falling off a ladder while helping prepare the barge for the blast.

Mitchell, of Kloof, was the blasting contracts manager for the Durban-based Blasting & Demolition Services, and had just started work with a team of demolition experts when he fell from a 3m-high ladder.

He had been wearing safety equipment, including a helmet.

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