Navy declares victory in lengthy battle to raise sunken tug

The Mooring Lighter – built by dockyard apprentices in 1902, and the oldest vessel still afloat in SA waters – was used to create further lift, said Van den Berg.

“Because of her age, the Mooring Lighter does not have a generator and cannot operate her capstan. In order to mitigate this, the winch of the tug Umalusi was used.

“The docking plate under the tug kept on getting stuck in the sand during the lifting process, adding to complications. Throughout the lifting process, divers continued  sealing off leaks and filling fuel, freshwater and ballast tanks with air.

“On December 3, the naval riggers and the naval harbour master devised a way of using snatch blocks to create further buoyancy. The aim was to raise the tug high enough to clear the platform of the synchrolift.

“This was achieved on Wednesday [but] … airlocks in the tug created balance issues, which were finally overcome.”

Van den Berg called the operation “an amazing display of teamwork and resourcefulness by the dedicated team of professionals who worked tirelessly to solve numerous mathematical, physical and engineering problems”.

He added: “This exercise also provided invaluable practical salvage experience for the navy divers, at no cost to the organisation.”

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