SELI 1 becomes a permanent feature



10 May 2010


As was reported by this office in November 2009, the SELI 1 was extensively damaged by late winter

storms last year despite efforts to strengthen her, which seriously compromised any simple salvage


Since that time, a small but determined group with a desire to remove the vessel from the Cape

shoreline, despite the lack of direct funding, has been attempting to keep the momentum of the project

going by every means at their disposal.

The coal removal phase has now been all but completed with approximately 21000 tonnes of the 30000

tonnes originally in the vessel having been removed and sold to a distributor ashore. The current bad

weather has substantially damaged the equipment used to discharge the coal and the operation will not

be resumed as the cost of reinstating the equipment is far too expensive for the return on cost.

In addition the facilities aboard will no longer safely and hygienically support the team of “coal

miners” and SMIT personnel aboard as well as the fact that the cranes have deteriorated over time,

having delivered beyond expectations during the extended coal removal operation.

A recent surge of hope and enthusiasm for a refloating attempt, despite the predictions made in

November, were dashed when the highly professional Naval Architects and Salvage Masters of SMIT

did the calculations of the stresses and strains which would be placed on the SELI 1 in her present

seriously damaged condition and predicted a 90% chance of failure. Given the accuracy of their

predictions on the spectacular wreck reduction of the barge Margaret in Jacobs Bay, we have had to

put that methodology to bed once and for all.


Nevertheless no-one has conceded defeat yet and the team will continue to work towards the eventual

removal of the SELI1.

Once the current storm has subsided, the condition of the wreck will be evaluated and a decision will

be made on whether we will continue any wreck reduction activities over the winter period or whether

the vessel will be closed down for the rest of winter pending a new operation in summer.

Small pockets of oil remain trapped within the wreck and are released from time to time through

cracks in the hull, especially when there is appreciable swell and wave action. Regardless of whether

the operation is temporarily suspended or not, SMIT will continue to monitor the structure of the

wreck as well as the oil pollution threat and will remove any oil which presents itself in an accessible

space onboard the wreck.

Unfortunately this storm has dislodged equipment from the SELI 1 and local bathers should be aware

that floating debris may still be afloat and pose a danger to swimmers and surfers. The wreck itself is

more dangerous than ever and no one may board the vessel without the express permission of SAMSA

2 replies
  1. dave hall says:

    G’day, South Africa, I’ve followed the plight of the Seli 1 (Silly one??) since my friend in Swellendam brought her to my attention last year just after she grounded. (He sent me photo’s that he took on a week-end away). I forgot about her until I saw a NatG doc on cable titled ‘Salvage Red Alert’ The Salvage men got the oil off, then the coal came later, or most of. The Turkish owners don’t want to know and it’s left you poor guys to get rid of it, now I see she’s had a few explosions on board earlier this month and caught fire! Don’t you just wish it would ‘melt’ I hope that there is no enviromental damage done and that you can get this hulk removed. You have a beautiful costline there in the Cape, I hope to see it in all it’s glory some time soon..without the ‘Silly One’ spoiling the view!!…

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