More than two years after the grounding of container ship Kea Trader while en route to New Caledonia, Shanghai Salvage has built a barge, the Ca Li, which is 125 meters long and can accommodate a crew of 100.
The prototype barge is semi-submersible and can be positioned on the reef and sink to the bottom, while anchors are deployed around to stabilize it.
The salvors are now waiting for the approval of the scientific committee of the Coral Sea Nature Park which wants to ensure that removal would not be environmentally worse than leaving the wreck in situ.
The scientific committee’s response had been expected this month. If it recommends a wreck removal, the shipowner will have to decide to start either before the hurricane season or wait until after it..
The wreckage will have to be cut up where it grounded and transported by barge and tugs to Noumea, where it would be dismantled completely.
Shanghai Salvage Company remains at the site to secure sections of the vessel in place.
Kea Trader ran aground on July 12th 2017. The salvors reported water ingress in the double bottom tanks, duct keel and cargo holds. Containers in the lower tiers of the hold were flooded and fuel oil was detected in one of the cargo hold.
The vessel was then pounded repetitively by heavy swell. The engine-room bulkhead failed on July 23rd and the vessel was declared a constructive total loss on September 28th.
On November 12th the vessel was again struck by heavy weather, fracturing the hull. All personnel were evacuated. On December 4th the vessel broke her back and the two halves began to drift apart.