By Kowthar Solomons

It may be time for the Seli 1's life support to be switched off.

The small bulk carrier, which has been lying in the shallows off Table View after running aground earlier this year, has been kept powered up by salvors as maritime authorities wrestled with the problem of removing her at the lowest possible cost.

But now the wind has been knocked out of the sails of the South African Maritime Safety Authority after continuing rough seas have damaged the ship's structure, despite the efforts of the salvage experts to build support braces into the hull to keep it together.

The authority's Dave Colley yesterday blamed the fact that the ship was now irreparable on indecision by state departments over who should pay.

"Despite the best efforts by Smit's salvage experts, without the active and direct support from affected and involved authorities, there is no prospect of the (removal) plan's success," he said.

"Following an inspection and considering the limited funds available, we have agreed to stop wasting money on further attempts to strengthen the structure as there is no prospect of refloating the vessel."

Plans to refloat the vessel and then either recycle it or sink it offshore have also been scrapped. Furthermore, the ship's owners opposed a proposal to sell the coal it is carrying to pay for the removal costs.

A final decision on the wreck's future was to be made at a meeting of departments today, Colly said.

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