Due to a large storm in the South Pacific at the beginning of this week, the crew and the majority of salvage workers were taken from the grounded Kea Trader as a safety precaution, Lomar Shipping, the ship’s owner informed.
“A skeleton salvage team remained on board and reported that the vessel continued to be relatively stable on a flat rock area of the Durand Reefs,” the update reads.
Damage to the 2017-built vessel as a result of the grounding is still being assessed and will become clear once the ship is refloated. However, Lomar said it expects the damage to be “considerable”.
Limited breaks in poor winter weather conditions have now allowed the removal of a total of 55 of the vessel’s 756 containers, initially using the ship’s own cranes. They were transferred onto barges that managed to come alongside during calmer weather conditions, and were subsequently taken to Noumea, in New Caledonia.
“Operations to remove further containers have stepped up a gear this week with the arrival of a specialist Sikorsky Skycrane heavy lift helicopter, which arrived by ship in Noumea and began operations on site today,” the company added.
Lomar further said that a crane barge is currently being towed from Singapore to the site to bolster on-site lifting resources at Durand Reefs, “as heavy winter swells hopefully begin to give way to lighter sea conditions.”
“The removal of containers is reliant on good weather conditions that allow our response team to safely bring vessels alongside to receive these units. The arrival of a heavy lift helicopter is intended to overcome this challenge and will hopefully see an increase in the daily removal of containers,” a spokesman for Lomar said.