Salvors of 2017-built container ship Kea Trader have another challenge to deal with after the vessel was split into two on 12 November by severe storms. Ardent Global had been working for four months unloading the damaged 25,293 dwt ship and trying to refloat it.
Kea Trader grounded on the Durand Reef in the south Pacific on 12 July, loaded with 756 containers. The Malta-flagged ship, owned by Lomar Shipping, had been sailing from Papeete, in French Polynesia, to Noumea in New Caledonia.
On 13 November, Lomar said continual wave pounding and stress of sitting hard aground a flat rock reef resulted in vertical fractures on the mid-section of the hull, and then the complete rupture of Kea Trader. “Each section remains in situ, although the break up and heavy seas resulted in two container units falling into the water,” Lomar said.
Two tugs and specialist anti-pollution contractors remain on site to monitor the situation. The Ardent salvage workers were airlifted safely off the site by helicopter on 12 November.
Removal of the 756 containers originally on board has been hampered by bad weather since the initial grounding. Lomar said 108 containers were still on board. There have also been unsuccessful attempts to refloat the damaged ship, which had only left the Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China in January 2017.
Lomar said the hull side started to buckle during an unsuccessful refloating operation in October. “A heavy storm at the weekend added substantial additional stress and caused the ship to split into two,” said a spokesman.
He added “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.” Lomar will scrap the ship once it is removed from the Durand Reef.