Shanghai Salvage Company (SSC) has started taking over the responsibilities from Ardent to remove the grounded Kea Trader from the Durand Reef, in the south Pacific.
The marine salvage and wreck removal company has launched the mobilization process of its personnel and seagoing assets in New Caledonia, according to the owner of the ill-fated containership Lomar Shipping.
SSC’s structural experts have also begun to assess the status of the vessel, which deteriorated from the direct impact of two heavy cyclones within a month. The handover process is estimated to be completed in April.
“Teams from SSC and Ardent were finally able to board the vessel for a first time on Saturday, after weeks of poor weather conditions and heavy swells had prevented access. Safety of all project personnel remains a key factor throughout this project,” Lomar said.
Onshore, SSC has begun the process of engaging with existing local businesses that have been involved in the project to date, and other third parties interested in supporting the wreck removal process.
In this regard, a ‘Supplier Engagement Day’ will be organized by SSC in mid-April to facilitate discussions between local businesses and SSC’s representatives from its UK and China offices.
“SSC intends to consider continued utilization of local suppliers in New Caledonia, where appropriate for the new stage of the Kea Trader project – subject to their suitability and continued commercial viability,” Norman McLennan, International General Manager for SSC, said.
Activities on site
Operations at sea continue to be hampered by adverse weather conditions and damage caused to the vessel during two recent cyclones.
Of 782 containers and flat-racks originally on the Kea Trader at the time it ran aground in July, 2017, 697 have been brought ashore, including one empty unit retrieved from the sea after the impact of Cyclone Hola, Lomar added in an update.
A number of further units, all believed to be empty, were lost overboard during the cyclones, although precise numbers are still to be determined given the current difficulty of accessing both sections of the vessel in storm-force seas.
Four offshore vessels continue to search relevant areas of the ocean to recover any floating debris – an effort supported by aerial assets employed by the owner and the maritime authorities.
Furthermore, activities on collecting any debris that washes up on shore, resume.
This has involved a small volume of tar balls; however, the vast majority of the material has been metal container parts, carpet and polyurethane insulating material, according to Lomar.
The company added that it would continue the sea-going search for materials, despite the fact that the volume of this material has been steadily diminishing in recent days.
Image Courtesy: Lomar Shipping