Solomon Trader finally refloated

Bulk carrier Solomon Trader (IMO 9075670) was refloated on May 11th after two days waiting for the right tide. An inspection of the hull was ongoing before any decision was taken on how and when to move the vessel. Once a removal has taken place the government will carry out a full environmental assessment before seeking likely sizeable compensation for environmental damage. Solomon Trader ran aground on February 5th on Rennell Island, Solomon Islands, having called at Rennell Island in early February to take on a load of bauxite ore at Bintan Mining dock, located in Kangava Bay on the west side of the island. She went aground on a reef just off the shore.

The passage of Cyclone Oma at the same time complicated the rescue effort, with assessment and pollution prevention responses being delayed Solomon Trader suffered a hull breach within about two weeks of the grounding.

She released an estimated 100 tons of fuel oil into the marine environment in Kangava Bay and the pollution nearly reached the protected UNESCO World Heritage site at the east end of the island, which includes the largest raised coral atoll in the Pacific. At least three miles of reefs and coastline have been soiled with fuel oil, and estimates of the cost of cleanup are in the tens of millions of dollars.

The charterer, bauxite mine operator Bintan Mining, has asserted that it is blameless  and its operations continue. The Solomon Islands’ acting prime minister, Rick Hou, has threatened to blacklist the companies involved if they do not take on what he said were their responsibilities.

The leak from the hull was finally halted in mid-March. The vessel was now  expected to be scrapped.

1994-built, Hong Kong-flagged, 38,559 gt Solomon Trader is owned and managed by King Trader Ltd of Hong Kong.