Some 80 tonnes of the remaining fuel oil have been extracted from the heavily grounded bulker MV Benita on the coast of Le Bouchon, Mauritius, while over 60 more tonnes remains to be removed from the vessel’s tanks.
The fuel has been pumped into specialised one tonne containers and transported to a secure location on shore via helicopter, the Greek company Five Oceans Salvage, which is in charge of the salvage operation, said.
Five Oceans Salvage added that no further oil sheens have been observed in the vicinity of the 44,183 dwt ship, however, booms and other anti-pollution measures remain in place as a precaution.
An oil spill which was earlier spotted in the area had been put under control.
Despite inclement weather conditions which hampered initial oil pumping operations, the salvage teams managed to continue with the works, while salvage divers carried out a number of dive inspections in order to further assess the extent of the damage.
The company earlier said that although a number of tanks aboard the ship were damaged and flooded, the MV Benita “appears to be stable and remains firmly aground.”
Together with the vessel’s owners and the authorities, the salvage firm continues developing plans for the eventual re-floating and removal of the bulker, however, the efforts to free the 1998-built vessel could take over a month to complete.
The tug Ionian Sea FOS remains on site, and a further tug, Coral Sea FOS, is en route and is scheduled to arrive next week.
The bulker ran into trouble following a fight between two of the seafarers onboard. One of the sailors was seriously injured, while the other hid in the engine room, where he reportedly cut all the vessel systems leaving MV Benita adrift.
“The fourth engineer has been hospitalised and authorities are waiting for him to regain consciousness so he can help with inquiries. He is said to be able to provide vital clues in the case,” Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) Port Louis chaplain, Fr Jacques-Henri David, said.
He added that one seafarer was in custody and two others are on board the ship, working with the salvage company, while the captain and the rest of the seafarers are being cared for by the Philippines Consulate.