What was meant to be a quick pit stop turned into a three-day international nightmare for those on board a foreign cargo vessel as SA sheriffs pitched up at the Port Elizabeth Harbour to seize bunkers of fuel in a bid to recover about R15m.

The Herald reports that this came after the charterers of the MV Melinda bulk carrier bumped heads with a Denmark-based company over a costly mishap of damaged bags of polyester chips.

The Sheriff made the move to attach the bunkers while the carrier was getting fuel from the bunkering vessel, the Minerva, in Gqeberha last week.

Clothing items that were used to absorb fuel in a bid to prevent it from spilling were also not spared.

In papers before the Eastern Cape High Court (Gqeberha), Dampskibsselskabet Norden A/S, a charterer of vessels, demanded that the fuel be seized as security for the tens of thousands of euros owed for damaged cargo – the bags of polyester chips en route to Mexico.

Dampskibsselskabet, which specialises in the letting of vessels, said the fuel bunkers laden on the ship should be seized to cover the amount of €735 169.50 (about R15m).

The figure relates to bags of polyester chips that were allegedly damaged by China based company Gio Shipping on board another vessel, the Tomini Destiny, in October.

The vessel had been travelling from China to Antwerp in Belgium when the goods were allegedly damaged.

After that, Gio Shipping took charter of the Melinda.

The court bid, brought on an urgent basis, sought the arrest of the Melinda as soon as it arrived in the Port Elizabeth Harbour so that an arbitration could be held in London.

Full report in The Herald