All five holds of Bibby Line’s troubled bulk carrier MV Cheshire have cooled down, however, salvors are still unsuccessful in their attempts to board the ship due to adverse weather conditions, the shipowner said in an update.
As informed, the process of decomposition is believed to have completed and there are no fumes emanating from the 56,597 dwt vessel.
“The salvors planned to board the vessel today (August 27) in order to make their assessment of the situation and leave to report back on their findings. Unfortunately due to deteriorating weather conditions their attempts to board today have been unsuccessful,” the statement says.
To remind, the UK-flagged bulker experienced elevated temperatures in cargo holds 4 and 5 on August 12. The vessel was loaded with a full cargo of fertiliser and was on passage from Norway to Thailand to discharge. The vessel arrived at around 15.00 hours on August 13 at a safe position 45 miles south of Gran Canaria, as it was scheduled to stop in Las Palmas to take on bunkers.
Salvors Resolve Marine were appointed to attend the vessel and deal with the cargo problem. Resolve Marine arrived in Las Palmas on August 14, but in the meantime, the crew of Cheshire were evacuated and taken ashore for their own safety as wind conditions were so light that the fumes were not being carried away from the ship.
A standby tug from Sasemar stayed with the vessel and an access ladder has been rigged. The vessel had been drifting in a south westerly direction away from any landmass.
The crew are reported to be well and in a good condition and all except the second engineer, who has been assisting the salvors, have been flown home.
Resolve Marine have been on station alongside the vessel since August 16 but had failed to get on board due to adverse weather conditions, the heat and the fumes being generated from the affected holds.
On August 21, the salvors managed to get a tow line attached and the Cheshire, according to AIS data, is currently approximately 50 nautical miles SE of Gran Canaria with a tug towing, VB Hispania providing support and a Sasemar vessel escorting.
The initial plan is to provide an independent power pack in order to power up the windlass and emergency fire pump and establish an emergency stern towing connection. Following this, the plan is to make the vessel safe to board, which would require gas freeing the accommodation, engine room and main deck.
The salvors have received permission from the Spanish authorities to bring the vessel in closer but no less than 12 nautical miles from the shore, which would make their task easier.