Grounded Bulker in Mauritius Spills Fuel
On Sunday, Mauritania's Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms Alain Wong personally dove the site of the grounded bulker Benita to investigate the condition of the vessel.
"I am not satisfied with the salvage. It could be done more quickly," he told Mauritius' Daily Challenge.
Wong is an honorary member of the Mauritius Scuba Diving Association and the first and only person to complete the 108 nm round Mauritius open sea swimming marathon.
Social media images posted Monday showed oil on the beaches near the Benita. Local medial outlet Lexpress posted video showing an oil boom deployment and cleaning crews at work. "Cleaning is in progress. Buoys have been placed to contain the oil," said a National Coast Guard spokesman.
Five Oceans Salvage has been contracted to refloat the vessel, and one of its salvage tugs and several members of its team are already on hand. The 100 ton bollard pull Ionian Sea FOS is standing by offshore to intervene if the Benita shows signs of moving towards shore or listing on the reefs. She is in the surf line and salvors say that the heavy swell is causing her to move and flex on the rocks, damaging her hull.
Separately, the crewmember allegedly responsible for instigating the shipboard fight that led to the grounding, identified by local media as Omar Taton, was charged with assault and detained in Plaine-Magnien. "We were afraid of our lives. [He] threatened to kill us if we tried to stop him. The cause of the fight is unknown," another crewmember told Defi Media.
One crewmember was hospitalized after the fight, having suffered blows to the head from an iron bar. Taton admitted to authorities that he had assaulted the man.
The captain, chief engineer, chief mate and one additional crewmember remain aboard the Benita.