Shanghai Salvage Company (SSC) has started recovering debris from the reef where the ill-fated Kea Trader ran aground a year ago.
The operation, during which the company would remove debris detached during storms, follows completion of a new independent bathymetric survey, Lomar Shipping, the owner of the vessel, informed.
The survey determined current surface conditions and the precise location of debris, enabling shallow work vessels to move around the rock hard reef for divers to collect the metal fragments.
Airbags have been used to remove larger pieces of hull structure off the reef bed and onto the logistics support & command platform Ju Li, that is now coordinating SSC operations on site. Lomar Shipping said that this work would continue and escalate over the coming months with the return of more favourable weather.
The materials and debris being recovered would be recycled by local businesses in New Caledonia.
Additionally, the company informed that plans for recovering more substantive pieces of hull from the reef bed are well advanced, with the intention to mobilise new heavy resources with heavy lift capabilities – the design of which is subject to complex engineering studies and final approval by the authorities.
“Tremendous progress has been made in the past 12 months to safely remove the Kea Trader – however these efforts have been stymied by horrendous conditions on site,” a Lomar spokesman said.
Four offshore vessels continue to work on site, whilst also monitoring the ocean for any floating debris and pollutants.
The vessel’s vertical fracture last November and subsequent storm damage released a quantity of tar balls and polyurethane insulating material, as well as pieces of containers and carpet, that washed ashore in New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.
The 2,194 TEU Kea Trader ran aground on July 12, 2017, only six months after it was delivered to its owner from Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China.