Work underway to free Benita, injured seafarer still recovering

Salvors have removed most of the 145 tonnes of fuel oil onboard Benita, the vessel that ran aground off the coast of Mauritius last month. Meanwhile, a seafarer allegedly attacked onboard the vessel is still recovering.

Crewmember Omar Palmes Taton is accused of striking engineer Alvin Maderse on the head with a metal pipe shortly before the vessel ran aground off the coast of Mauritius in on June 17.

A spokesman for MTI Network today told Splash Maderse is still receiving medical attention but is “recovering”. It is not clear whether he has regained consciousness.

Meanwhile, Taton is still being interviewed by authorities, the spokesman said.

Apostleship of the Sea’s (AoS) Port Louis chaplain, who has been visiting the crew, last month said the vessel’s crew had been left “traumatised” by the alleged attack.

Salvors are using specialised vacuum pumping equipment to remove the small quantity of fuel oil remaining in two double-bottom tanks, Five Oceans Salvage said today.

Reports that some 5,000 tons of fuel were lost are erroneous, the salvor said, and the 145 tonnes of fuel oil were all that was onboard at the time of the grounding. No further pollution or oily residue has leaked from the vessel.

The emptied cargo tanks have been pressurised and sealed, and salvors are working to re-pressurise the remaining tanks and void spaces ahead of refloatation operations.

The vessel remains aground but is in a stable condition. Neither the deck nor the ship’s side plates show any signs of undue stress, the salvor added.

Two tugs are in place to keep constant tension on lines connected to Benita’s stern to prevent excessive movement of the vessel.

A diving supervisor, who was injured at the site last week, is recuperating in hospital in Port Louis and is expected to make a full recovery.


Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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