Lomar Shipping, owner of the Kea Trader wreck in the southern Pacific, is close to awarding a removal contract following a three-month tender process.
As reported by Tug Technology & Business, Kea Trader, which was new out of the shipyard in January 2017, struck the Durand Reef on 12 July 2017, while sailing from Papeete in French Polynesia, to Noumea in New Caledonia. This 2,194 TEU capacity ship split in two on 12 November. Despite continued pounding by stormy seas and harsh weather, the two hull segments have remained in situ on the reef and need removal.
On 13 February, Lomar said it had chosen an approved contractor and would award a removal contract within the next few weeks after completing contractual negotiations.
It has already formulated a plan to remove two sections of vessel intact from the reef to protect the marine environment. This would require a heavy-lift unit, tugs and use of local suppliers within the New Caledonia region.
Ardent Global has been in charge of salvaging containers and fuel from Kea Trader since it became lodged on the rocky reef. During that time, it has removed heavy fuel oil and other pollutants and extracted 26 flat-racks and 652 of the 756 containers that were originally on board.
Lomar said Ardent will continue working in a caretaker capacity until the ultimately successful contractor is awarded the contract for the full removal of the wreck.
“Since the original grounding, the authorities and owners have placed paramount importance on the safe removal of Kea Trader in a way that mitigates any damage and protects the marine environment,” said a Lomar spokesman in a statement. “The chosen methodology has faced very close scrutiny and rigorous evaluation, and we are all equally convinced, subject to contractual agreement, that it is the best and quickest option for us moving forward.”
Adverse weather, including cyclones and heavy storms, have hampered salvage operations from the start. Waves of up to 7 m have battered the wreck, ripping it in two and listing the aft and bow sections.
A large fleet of support vessels, including tugs, remain on site to support the recovery operation. This fleet includes two main offshore bases equipped with offshore anti-pollution collection booms, two storage barges and two shallow draft tugs with further pollution collection arms.
Kea Trader was delivered in January 2017 at the Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China. The 25,293 dwt vessel is registered in Valletta, Malta.