Oil is being removed from stricken container ship Kea Trader, which crashed into a Pacific Ocean reef in July. Adverse sea conditions have made it impossible to remove the onboard fuel direct to barge, so the salvors have to use tanks and a helicopter.
Ship operator Lomar Shipping said heavy fuel was being pumped into tanks, which were then being helicoptered off of Kea Trader and onto nearby barge, Chasseloup. Kea Trader is stuck on the Durand Reefs in New Caledonia.
A spokesman for Lomar said this operations should be completed by the end of this week. At least half of the 750 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has either been removed or consumed on board.
Salvors at Ardent Oceania Salvage have oil spill prevention measures and equipment remain on site ready to rapidly deploy anti-pollution apparatus, should this be needed.
Once the heavy fuel oil has been removed, extraction of the 756 containers on Kea Trader can begin. A larger helicopter will be drafted in for these removals. Of the 756 containers, 553 were being carried empty for onward cargo shipments, said Lomar Shipping.
The ship operator said a detailed plan for re-floating the vessel was being finalised and could be enacted once the containers were removed. Up to 40 specialist personnel from various companies are now directly involved, with a fleet of vessels supporting activities on site. These are being supported by naval architects, marine environment and other salvage expertise
Kea Trader, a Malta-registered 2,194 teu container ship, remains in a stable position on the reef. The 25,293 dwt ship was launched in January 2017 at the Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China. It was en route from Papeete, in French Polynesia, to Nourmea, the capital of New Caledonia. It is not yet known the cause of the accident, but investigations are underway.