Shanghai Salvage Company (SSC) has begun assuming responsibility for the removal of grounded Kea Trader from the Durand Reef, in the south Pacific.
Shipowner Lomar said that SSC’s structural experts had also begun to assess the status of the vessel, which had deteriorated as a result of being hit by two heavy cyclones within a few weeks of each other earlier this year. The handover process from Ardent to SSC is likely to be completed in April, according to Lomar.
“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.
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.
However, salvage operations at sea continued to be affected by bad weather. There were 782 containers and flat-racks on the Kea Trader at the time it ran aground in July, 2017, and 697 of these have now been brought to shore. Lomar said that this included ne empty unit retrieved from the sea after Cyclone Hola hit.
A number of further units, all believed to be empty, were lost overboard during the cyclones. Four offshore vessels have continued searching relevant areas of the ocean to recover any floating debris, supported by aerial assets employed by the owner and the maritime authorities. The collection of any debris that washes ashore has resumed. This has involved a small volume of tar balls, but most of the material on beaches or rocks has been metal container parts, carpet and polyurethane insulating material. Lomar said that it was continuing the sea-going search for materials, noting that the volume of this material in the past few days had been steadily diminishing.