Bad weather claims large bulker

From Lloyds List :
Search continues for crew of Alexandros T
By Sandra Speares- Friday May 05 2006

RESCUE teams continued to search yesterday for 26 missing crew members from the capesize Alexandros T which sank off the South African coast on Wednesday evening in heavy seas and 45 knot winds.

The 171,875 dwt vessel, laden with 155,000 tonnes of iron ore, was on a voyage from Ponta da Madeira in Brazil to China when it suffered heavy water ingress and flooding in several cargo holds. The master ordered the crew to abandon ship, after which seven crew members were rescued from a life raft and one from the water by the CSE Fortune Express, which reported the vessel went down at 1752 hrs GMT. A spokesman for Greek managers overseas Marine Enterprises said a further four empty liferafts had been spotted but these were empty.

South African aircraft are continuing to look for survivors.While Craig Lambinon, of the National Sea Rescue Institute in Cape Town said the weather improved yesterday morning the missing crew members "have been in the water a long time". Overseas Marine Enterprises' spokesman reported 20 ft swells and said that a storm is now forecast.

Dutch company Smit signed a Lloyd's Open Form contract for the vessel's salvage and tug Smit Amandla is continuing to proceed towards the site of the casualty to join the rescue efforts, the Overseas Marine Enterprises' spokesman said. He could not confirm ownership of the cargo.

The company is in close contact with or is trying to contact all the families of the crew. The nationalities of the crew are four Greeks, 24 Filipinos, four Romanians and one Ukrainian.
The ship, which was built at Santierul Naval Constanta of Romania in 1989, is flagged in St Vincent & the Grenadines, classed by Lloyd's Register and entered with the London Steamship Owners Mutual Insurance Association.

In a statement, Lloyd's Register said the bulker's last special survey took place in 2004. "There are no outstanding surveys or overdue conditions of class. To the best of our knowledge, the ship was in compliance with the relevant class and statutory requirements. "The ship's last port state control inspection took place in Fremantle in March 2005. There was no detention. "We await further information and will assist any investigation into the incident as required by the owner, the flag state administration or any other authority."

Lloyd's Register confirmed yesterday that the ship's No 1 aft bulkhead and double bottom was strengthened in October 2002 in accordance with 1998 requirements for evaluation and upgrading of the foremost hold structure under conditions of hold flooding for existing single side bulk carriers.

Alexandros T'sowners had been informed of new additional safety measures for bulk carriers under Solas Chapter XII, which are due to come into force on July 1 and which contain restrictions on sailing with any hold empty (or less than 10% full) when carrying heavy cargoes.

The bulker was detained in November 2003 in the US for deficiencies which included numerous fractured brackets in No 3,4,5, 6, 8 and 9 cargo holds and an ISM inspection revealed that the vessel and company had failed to fully implement the requirements of the ISM Code through the Safety Management System.