Briggs Marine’s response to Kea Trader stranding

Kea Trader aground on Durrand Reef  (Lomar Shipping) Kea Trader aground on Durrand Reef (Lomar Shipping)

UK-based Briggs Marine & Environmental Services has provided ‘MJ’ with details of its emergency environmental response work following stranding of the container ship ‘Kea Trader’.

MJ has reported on the fate of Kea Trader since the vessel grounded on a reef near Maré Island in the South Pacific in July 2017. Damage to the ship led to the salvage operation becoming a wreck removal with Ardent Global providing initial response including pollutant removal work and it turned to Briggs Marine for specialist support.

Pollution risks came from the 756 containers and 750t of HFO on board and Briggs’ response took the form of emergency pollution responders, oil spill advisors and oil containment/recovery equipment mobilised from Aberdeen to New Caledonia. Briggs worked with Ardent, the French Navy, the ship’s owners and local authorities in ensuring safe removal of fuel bunkers and recovery of any leaked hydrocarbons.

Several vessels were mobilised by Briggs who trained the crews in: safe operation during spill response; equipment deployment and recovery; pre and post checks on skimmers, powerpacks and pumps and instructions on manoeuvring. Response plans for potential spills were submitted for French government approval who were updated daily along with Ardent and local authorities.

Sea states between one and four metres were described as ‘good weather days’ with up to 12m breaking waves on bad days. This presented challenges with the spill equipment’s proximity to the vessel and further storms resulted in the vessel breaking into two sections.

This inevitably resulted in hydrocarbon release in an environmentally sensitive area and Briggs’ four-man team worked on a continuous rota for nine months ensuring any spill was dealt with quickly and efficiently until removal of containers, fuel and other potentially harmful substances was successfully completed.

Shanghai Salvage Company subsequently started to remove as much as possible of the vessel including collecting residual oily water from pipes, reservoirs and hydraulic circuits. Work included removal of debris detached during storms and lying on the reef and lifting of larger pieces of the hull structure onto a 19,000t barge using airbags. Subsequent plans included the deployment of new heavy resources with heavylift capabilities to recover more substantive pieces of the hull remaining on the reef bed. No doubt this column will return to this story with further updates.

By Peter Barker

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