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One ship raised but two wrecks remain

Fri 19 May 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

One ship raised but two wrecks remain
UCS was able to refloat Soby in So Vicente using local cranes, air bags and tanks

Underwater Contractors Spain (UCS) has successfully raised sunken ferry Soby, at Mindelo, So Vicente island after several failed attempts. But a reefer ship in the South Atlantic and the infamous container ship Rena have both been left as wrecks.

UCS raised Soby after 28 days of salvage operations using diving vessel Neptune. This included removing the cargo of multiple containers, lorries and trailers and installing buoyancy tanks and bags.

Further south in the Atlantic, a ship carrying frozen fish food sank after possibly striking an ice floe. According to Vesseltracker, Uruguay Reefer sank in around 6km of water 350 miles from Berkeley Sound and 210 miles outside the Falkland Islands Conservation Zone.

The 1993-built, 10,629gt refrigerated cargo ship was ruptured and suffered an ingress of water on 5 May, which eventually made efforts to salvage the vessel impossible. The ship operator, Baltmed Reefer Services, chartered tug Otway to assist the stricken vessel and collect debris that could have posed a threat to safe navigation.

Uruguay Reefer

  • Refrigerated cargo ship
  • Operated by Baltmed Reefer Services
  • 1993-built
  • 10,629gt
  • Struck by ice floe 5 May
  • Sank in South Atlantic 18 May
  • With 560 tonnes of heavy fuel oil
  • 180 tonnes of marine gas oil on board

The Falkland Islands Government sent fishery protection vessel Protegat to the scene. Two other vessels, reefer Frio Las Palmas and escort vessel Taganronskiy Zaliv were also used for rescue operations.

But Uruguay Reefer sank on 18 May with 560 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 180 tonnes of marine gas oil on board. It is thought the low temperatures at the seabed will prevent serious leakage of the fuel.

Meanwhile, a court in New Zealand has determined that wrecked cargo ship Rena will remain unsalvaged on a reef to protect further damage to the environment. On 18 May, the court said the wreck would not be removed because an abundance of marine life had grown around the hull, which goes down 36m underwater. The court said removing the wreck would cause more damage to the reef and surrounding environment.

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