The grounded containership Kea Trader developed a crack and split on the Durand Reef over the weekend, according to New Caledonia’s government.
“Four months of continual pounding in sometime storm-force seas and the stress of sitting hard aground a flat rock reef resulted in the m/v Kea Trader fracturing vertically over the weekend,” Kea Trader’s owner Lomar Shipping said.
Noticeable vertical buckling in the mid-section of the hull side expanded during violent six-metre waves, causing the vessel to rupture completely into two halves on November 12.
The company informed that each section remains in situ, although the break up and heavy seas resulted in two container units falling into the water. They are being monitored, as is the vessel itself, by two tugs that remain on site, along with specialist anti-pollution contractors.
Although the heavy fuel oil was earlier pumped out of the 2017-built boxship, which ran aground on the Durand Reef on July 12, authorities reported traces of pollution from residual quantities of hydrocarbons at the site.
Ahead of the latest bout of poor weather, all but a skeletal team of nine Ardent workers had been removed from the vessel last Thursday – the fourth such time that crew and salvage personnel were taken off as a precautionary measure. The remaining nine Ardent salvage workers were all airlifted safely off by helicopter.
Work to remove vessel’s remaining containers had been on-going in recent weeks, although 108 were still on board of the original 756 units. This effort had been hampered by poor weather on site.
“We remain committed to removing the vessel whilst also ensuring that the marine environment is protected and will be working with our partners to ensure this is realised,” Lomar Shipping spokesperson said.
The owner earlier said that the constant, heavy movement of the sea, even in good weather, affected Kea Trader causing further damage, weakening the ship’s hull, and frustrating the re-floating operations on site.
A rare ideal weather window and high tide allowed recovery teams to attempt an accelerated re-floating operation in early October. This failed to dislodge the vessel and merely pivoted it by 60 degrees, with the rudder remaining firm in the same position.
World Maritime News Staff