Twenty-one days after the grounding of Kea Trader on a reef off New Caledonia, the removal of heavy fuel oil from the 2017-built containership is now underway and could be completed next week, Lomar Shipping, the ship’s owner, informed.
Oil is being moved from the vessel in tanks, by helicopter, onto the nearby Chasseloup barge, given that adverse sea conditions have made it impossible to extract the fuel direct to barges, according to Lomar.
This operation began on July 27 and by the end of August 2 almost half of the 750 tons of heavy fuel oil will have been removed or consumed on board, the company said.
Oil spill prevention measures and equipment remain on site ready to rapidly deploy anti-pollution apparatus, should this be needed, in a detailed plan approved by the authorities in New Caledonia.
Once the heavy fuel oil has been extracted, attention will turn to the removal of Kea Trader’s load of 756 containers, 553 of which were being carried empty for onward cargo shipments. This forms part of a detailed plan for refloating the vessel, which is currently being finalized.
Kea Trader remains in a stable position on the Durand Reefs, in the Pacific Ocean. Maritime salvor Ardent is heading the salvage operation, supported by further naval architects, marine environment and other salvage expertise.
“Our salvage team is making very good progress and with favourable conditions the operation to extract heavy fuel oil from Kea Trader should be completed next week. Once finished, a detailed strategy for the complex task of removing containers and re-floating the vessel, whilst also protecting the local marine environment, can then move ahead,” a spokesperson of Lomar said.
To remind, the Malta-flagged boxship ran aground some 100 kilometers southeast of the island of Mare in the Pacific Ocean on July 12.
Kea Trader, a 2,194 TEU containership, was launched in January 2017 at the Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China.
The vessel had been sailing from Papeete, in French Polynesia, to Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, loaded with 750 container units.