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Tug Technology & Business

Kea Trader remains lodged on reef after four-month salvage

Tue 07 Nov 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

<i>Kea Trader</i> remains lodged on reef after four-month salvage
Ardent Global used tugs to help with salvaging containers on Kea Trader

Salvors working to remove containers and remove Kea Trader from the Durand Reef in the south Pacific continue to be hampered by poor weather and heavy swells

For more than four months, salvors have tried to refloat an almost new container ship from a Pacific Ocean reef that is becoming one of the longest running wreck removal projects this decade. At the time of writing, on 3 November, it was not yet known how it ended up crashing on the reef but it had resisted efforts to remove it and was slowly being broken up by the sea.

When 2017-built, 25,293 dwt ship Kea Trader grounded on the Durand Reef in the south Pacific on 12 July, it was loaded with 756 containers. The Malta-flagged ship, owned by Lomar Shipping, had been sailing from Papeete, in French Polynesia, to Noumea in New Caledonia.

Since then, salvors from Ardent Global have attempted to remove containers and refloat the vessel. Initially Lomar had hoped to be able to repair Kea Trader once it had been removed, but on 2 October, Lomar decided it would have to scrap the ship, which had only left the Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China in January.

Kea Trader facts

  • Built: 2017.
  • Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard, China .
  • Owner: Lomar Shipping.
  • Flag: Malta.
  • Crashed: Durand Reef, 12 July.
  • Cargo: 756 containers.

According to Lomar, around 150 of the containers remained on board on 3 November and four-fifths of the hull was sitting on the hard rock reef. Its salvage has been disrupted by bad weather and rough sea conditions since July but Lomar told Tug Technology & Business that a rare ideal weather window and high tide in early October allowed the recovery team to attempt an accelerated re-floating operation. However, this failed to dislodge the vessel and merely pivoted it by 60°, with the rudder remaining firm in the same position.

In November, Ardent was attempting to remove the last containers from below deck, although poor weather and heavy swells continued to hamper this activity. Once discharged, many of these containers will require specialist treatment when on land.

Rough seas are causing further damage and frustrating the re-floating operations on site

Ardent was also preparing new refloat plans as the situation is a dynamic one. “The vessel is being affected by a constant and heavy movement of the sea, even in good weather,” said Lomar. “Rough seas are causing further damage and frustrating the re-floating operations on site.”

Recovery teams were using every favourable weather window to unload containers to improve buoyancy but this continues to be a long, slow and painstaking process because of the rough swells.

Also in the Pacific, Five Oceans Salvage towed stranded and disabled bulk carrier Evangelia 1 to Honolulu, Hawaii for repairs. At the end of October, it used tug Manuokekai to tow the ship at speeds between 4 knots and 7 knots. Evangelia 1 was en route from Guatemala to Caofeidan, China, when it became stranded.

European salvage

In Europe, Spanopoulos Group was tasked with salvaging damaged 3,200 dwt tanker Agia Zoni II, which sank on 10 September near Salamina Island, Greece, causing a considerable oil spill. The tanker had been carrying 2,200 tonnes of fuel oil and 370 tonnes of marine gas oil, most of which was spilled before the ship was removed at the beginning of November.

The oil reached the coast around Piraeus and beaches throughout the Argo-Saronic Gulf, closing tourist areas, including usually-busy beaches. Experts warned that impacts of the accident could last for years.

The Greek Government announced a number of regulatory efforts in response to the sinking, promising urgent inspections of small Greek-flagged coastal fuel tankers similar to Agia Zoni II. It was planning to move the Hellenic Coast Guard and ship inspectorate service from the shipping ministry to that of the ministry for interior affairs.

Other salvage projects during October highlighted the importance of having tugs on emergency standby. Smit was tasked with salvaging bulk carrier Glory Amsterdam, which ran aground on 29 October during storm conditions off Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Emergency tug Nordic and multipurpose vessel Mellum were on the scene and ready to rescue the crew. Port tugs Jade and Buksier 9 were also on standby, while heavy-duty tugs Fairmount Summit and Union Manta refloated the ship and towed it to Wilhelmshaven for repairs on 2 November.

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