Extended salvage operation for Ardent

Recovery of 'Kea Trader' continues despite it breaking in two (Photo: Lomar Shipping) Recovery of 'Kea Trader' continues despite it breaking in two (Photo: Lomar Shipping)
Industry Database

Ardent Salvage has been involved in a protracted salvage operation dogged by bad weather involving a grounded container ship in the South Pacific

In July 2017, during the southern hemisphere winter the 2,194teu container vessel Kea Trader ran aground on Durand Reef in the Pacific Ocean while on passage from Papeete in French Polynesia to Noumea in New Caledonia. Ardent was hired the same day under a Lloyd’s Open Form to recover the vessel.

The location’s remoteness and difficult sea conditions resulted in logistical challenges lightening the vessel with Ardent removing 600 tons of heavy fuel oil and a Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter able to remove 532 of the 756 containers on board. Tugs and other vessels were mobilised to act as sea-borne base for the operation with a number of containers removed using the ship’s own gear. Bad weather constantly interrupted the salvor’s work and it soon became clear damage to the ship was considerable.

Sadly, for Kea Trader things were to deteriorate when inspections identified severe damage to the hull, rudder and propeller. The ship’s owner reported that most double bottom tanks had been affected with water ingress in all five cargo holds which was being controlled by portable pumps where possible to protect cargo. Both owner and insurers agreed the ship could not be repaired and would be recycled.

After four months of continual pounding Kea Trader fractured vertically and separated into two halves. All personnel were removed from the vessel with the fore section remaining steady and hard aground and the aft section rolling in the heavy seas. The owner, Ardent Salvage and specialist anti-pollution contractor remain committed to the task in hand, the former stating: “We remain committed to removing the vessel whilst also ensuring that the marine environment is protected and will be working with our partners to ensure this is realised.”

By Peter Barker

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