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Fiji Time: 7:40 PM on Monday 1 September

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Carrier blown aground

Ilaitia Turagabeci
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

AS wind whipped up the waters across Suva Harbour yesterday, the giant steel ship tried hard to fight back with its big engine power. It was no match.

The wind far from the eyes of monstrous Tropical Cyclone Evan pushed the bulk carrier across the water to the edge of the reef, where it ran aground.

The Starford — carrying equipment for the China First Railway Company, which is constructing the Nabouwalu highway — began to drag its anchor at 11.30am as the capital was pounded by strong winds and rain.

Attempts by its crew to power back to where it had been anchored failed as the wind picked up strength and pushed the Starford to rest close to the beacons on the port of the main reef entrance.

Its agent, Carpenters Shipping, held discussions with the Chinese company on what to do to refloat the ship but nothing could be done.

Carpenters Shipping managing director Manikam Narain said they had not been given any instruction by CFRG and the Starford's master.

"There are no plans to do anything right now. We'll just have to wait out the strong wind before we attempt anything. It's too dangerous out there," he said.

Mr Narain said the ship arrived from China and was headed for Nabouwalu, where construction work for the new road came to a halt as Tropical Cyclone Evan passed.

Just hours after the Starford got stuck, a fully-loaded container ship also ran aground on the starboard side beside the green entrance beacon.

Former cargo ship senior officer Johnathan Smith said such big ships should not be allowed into the harbour during a cyclone.

"Everywhere I have sailed in the world, they don't allow big ships into the harbour when there is a storm. They're too big and hard to manoeuvre in such conditions," he said.

"Not even a tugboat can help in such situations."

No comments could be obtained from ports authorities when this edition went to press last night.


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