This latest salvage round-up starts with news of a major challenge facing salvors following the capsize of a large vehicle carrier in the entrance channel to a US port.

The 2017-built, 71,178gt vehicle carrier Golden Ray capsized in St Simons Sound while approaching the Port of Brunswick. It was reported that the vessel was loaded with around 4,200 vehicles and thankfully all 24 persons on board were rescued including three trapped inside the vessel.

The US Coast Guard established a Unified Command made up of themselves, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Gallagher Marine Systems to identify and mitigate shoreline pollution and Lloyd’s Salvage Arbitration Branch recorded that Houston-based Donjon-Smit LLC had signed a Lloyd’s Open Form (including SCOPIC) contract for Golden Ray.

The initial response concentrated on pollution prevention including skimming of oil within the vessel itself and establishment of a plan for removing pollutants from Golden Ray’s internal tanks. Despite the deployment of containment booms, specialist responders had to be tasked to recover oiled debris washed ashore from the vessel.

Recovery of the ship will clearly be a long-term project and with over 200 responders and nearly 60 vessels engaged in the response it is a story this column will no doubt return to.

Tsavliris Salvage is seldom out of the news providing emergency response services and the Piraeus-based salvor was on hand when the tanker C Rock was disabled due to mechanical problems around 110 miles north east of Muscat Oman while on passage from Fujairah, UAE to Berbera, Somalia.

The vessel was loaded with 4,200t of gasoline and the potential threat to the environment would have been of prime concern. The 152tbp anchor-handling tug Resolve Monarch is no stranger to emergency response operations being one of the UK’s ETVs in an earlier life as Anglian Monarch and was despatched from its salvage station at Khorfakkan UAE.

Reaching the vessel the following day, the tug established a towing connection and arrived safely at outer Muscat anchorage one day later where standby services were provided prior to delivery of C Rock to the port by harbour tugs. Another rescue towing operation that largely goes unnoticed but would have been so different if pollution had occurred and another example of the importance of an adequately equipped salvage industry.

Details of a salvage operation that took place earlier this year have recently been reported by the International Salvage Union highlighting the complexity of what could otherwise appear a straightforward refloating operation.

The bulk carrier Ultra Trust ran aground around 75 miles off Pontianak, Indonesia shortly after sailing from the port having loaded 59,600t of coal with destination China. Due to the origins of the vessel’s owners and the casualty’s location a ‘co-salvor’ team was formed between Singapore-based Smit Salvage, Japan’s Nippon Salvage and Indonesia’s Samudera Salvage.

A salvage team was mobilised at very short notice and a large anchor-handling tug loaded salvage equipment at Smit’s Singapore facility while the shore team in Indonesia made logistical preparations including approvals from local authorities.

An inspection of the vessel found it to be hard aground amidships but with no significant hull breaches or damage, no leakages were observed. Such operations often follow a similar procedure where, if all the calculations including ground reaction, weather and tidal heights indicate such, an initial refloating attempt is made.

In coordination with the vessel’s owners such a refloating attempt was made but was unsuccessful due to the substantial grounding force.

The next step can then be to lighten the vessel to increase buoyancy and reduce its draught to what is calculated to be required for it to refloat in its grounded condition. Smit’s team had already been preparing for such and two large cargo barges, tugs and stevedores were soon on site and using Ultra Trust’s own cranes around 7,000t of coal was offloaded.

After de-ballasting and with suitable tidal conditions the vessel was refloated less than a month after grounding. A subsequent dive survey at an anchorage revealed only slight damage allowing the offloaded cargo to be reloaded again. Once the work was completed Ultra Trust was redelivered to its owners and the vessel was able to continue to its discharge port in China after final formalities with local authorities were completed.

By Peter Barker