Salvors pass milestones on Golden Ray and Seacor Power, tow a stricken VLCC in Singapore and save Indian offshore workers
In the US, salvage crews on the Golden Ray wreck removal project have restarted cutting and removing section three after tackling a fire on board and removing oil from the shore. Crews are cutting through the wreck in St. Simons Sound, Georgia, and preparing to lift it on to a drydock barge for stowage and transport.
A cutting chain is slicing through the hull of the wrecked car carrier along a pre-cut groove between section three and section four. Teams will continue to monitor and evaluate the cutting process. Inspection and maintenance checks of the cutting apparatus and cutting chain were completed prior to this operation.
Assessments of the wreck’s topside and lifting lugs will continue throughout the wreck removal process. Cutting operations were hampered in May by a fire on the wreck. Work was postponed as fire-fighting teams controlled and extinguished the fire on 14 May.
At least three tugs used fire monitors to help dowse the fire and cool the structure. Infrared cameras were used to assess the cooling and fire suppression operations around the wreck.
Response engineers started assessing the wreck and removal equipment on 16 May and heavy-lift unit VB-10000 was unhooked from section three. It was moved away from Golden Ray to allow for damage assessments.
Cutting operations restarted on 27 May. Once section three is separated, a drydock barge with a custom-fabricated cradle will be towed to the wreck site to receive the section.
Environmental teams identified and cleaned up oil pollution along the shorelines of St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island and in marsh grass adjacent to St. Simons Sound while on-water response teams maintained a 24-hour watch around the Golden Ray. They have deployed equipment and personnel to mitigate any oil discharges, sheens and debris.
Response vessels have cleaned oil sheens, towed a current buster to collect any oil that escapes the environmental protection barrier around the wreck and installed a sorbent boom near the orange barrier boom at the entrance of Clam Creek. This sorbent boom is hydrophobic and can absorb any oil material floating on the water’s surface.
In the Gulf of Mexico, Salvage crews removed fuel from capsized lift boat Seacor Power and are preparing to refloat it. According to the US Coast Guard (USCG), teams working from lift boat Seacor Eagle removed 92,500 litres of diesel fuel from Seacor Power, which overturned in a hurricane-force squall at the end of April.
Salvors from Donjon-Smit and Phoenix International have worked on the project 13 km off the coast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana since the beginning of May.
They used a hot tapping method to remove the fuel, drilling into the fuel tanks, making a hose connection and transferring the fuel to portable tanks.
The salvage team were preparing to raise Seacor Power from the seabed in June, including removing debris in preparation to refloat the vessel.
“The timeline for raising the vessel depends on many factors including primarily the safety of salvage crews, the weather, and addressing any new structural changes that may occur,” said USCG in mid-May. “The priority is to salvage the vessel in a safe and efficient manner. Raising the vessel is not expected to occur before June.”
20,450 litres of hydraulic fluid remain on Seacor Power until the vessel is raised, as the tanks are currently inaccessible. USCG said it would continue to monitor for any oil discharges and Seacor Marine has an oil spill response organisation standing by to respond to any situation.
The National Transportation Safety Board and USCG are investigating the accident which claimed the lives of 13 seafarers. Only six of the 19 crew were rescued when Seacor Power capsized on 13 April.
Outside of the US, several salvage operations were progressing to save lives and ships, while preventing environmental damage.
During March and April, salvors prevented a very large crude carrier from colliding with other ships or grounding. Tsavliris Salvage was contracted to assist VLCC Nave Buena Suerte as it experienced main engine problems off Myanmar. This 297,491-dwt tanker was on passage from Kuwait to Myanmar in ballast condition.
Tsavliris despatched anchor handling tug supply vessel Maersk Logger with 252 tonnes of bollard pull to assist the casualty, which was drifting off Munaung Island. This 23,500-bhp vessel arrived on 29 March, established a towage connection and started its tow to Singapore.
Due to heavy traffic in the Singapore/Malacca Strait area, Tsavliris arranged for two pilots and another two tugs to assist the convoy. It employed anchor handling tug Lanpan 26 and escort tug PSA Valkyrie.
Pilots boarded Maersk Logger and the VLCC at the rendezvous position off Brothers Islands on 9 April. Lanpan 26 made fast astern of the casualty and towage continued by Maersk Logger across the Singapore traffic separation scheme, escorted by PSA Valkyrie.
Maersk Logger disconnected its tow line and delivered the casualty to five powerful harbour tugs, which towed and escorted Nave Buena Suerte to a designated anchorage area. Lanpan 26 and PSA Valkyrie were released, while Maersk Logger and a pilot were on standby.
Tsavliris said the salvage operations lasted over four weeks and were successfully completed on 16 April.
In India, a cyclone caused multiple maritime and offshore casualties in mid-May in the Arabian Sea, with the loss of 74 seafarers. Cyclone Tauktae caused havoc in India’s offshore oil and gas industry leaving the Indian Coast Guard to assist offshore support vessels (OSVs) and tugs, rescue barges, rigs and ships in peril.
Three workboats operated by Afcons Infrastructure were cast adrift by the cyclone while working on the Mumbai High oilfield complex, on contract to India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
Offshore work barge Papaa-305 (P305) became unstable and subsequently sank with 273 people on board. Indian Coast Guard rescued many of the seafarers serving on P305, but at least 74 are still missing. Naval vessels INS Beas, Betwa, Teg, Kochi and Kolkata and ONGC-operated vessels were involved in subsequent searches.
Other barges, Gal Constructor and Support Station-3 (SS-3), were also set adrift fully manned in waves of up to 8 m. By 19 May, Indian Coast Guard had rescued all 202 people on SS-3 and 137 personnel on Gal Constructor, which had grounded off Palghar, India.
Cyclone Tauktae caused ONGC-operated drillship Sagar Bhushan to break its moorings and drift with 95 people on board. It was brought under control by an SCI-operated tug.
During the storm, jack-up rig Valliant Driller lost part of its superstructure and jack-up Sagar Kiran lost power when its emergency generator failed. Tug Coromandal Supporter IX was forced aground off Karnataka in high winds. Indian Coast Guard said OSV Greatship Aditi and tanker Desh Bhakt were stricken with power and propulsion issues.
In June, a salvage team from Smit and Seacare started to remove lubricant oil from Gal Constructor. By 6 June, they had contained around 1,000 litres of oil that leaked into the sea using booms set around the casualty at a 400-m radius.
Salvors are sponging out 79,000 litres of lube oil from the barge. More than 85 tanks are being deployed to the site on vessels to hold this oil.
Fires tackled in Sri Lanka and Hong Kong
Off Sri Lanka, container feeder vessel X-Press Pearl sank after smouldering for two weeks. X-Press Feeders said the vessel’s aft section sank after attempts by salvors, assisted by the Sri Lankan Navy, to tow the vessel into deeper waters failed. An inspection team boarded the 186-m vessel on 1 June and reported the engineroom flooded, prompting concerns over the amount of water in the hull and its effect on the ship’s stability.
Towing efforts were then halted due to a heavy swell and safety concerns for the salvors on board.
In Hong Kong, emergency response tugs tackled a fire in the cargo hold of general cargo ship Affluent Ocean on 2 June. This ship was anchored and undergoing cargo operations when the fire started. Fire-fighting tugs and vessels extinguished the fire on 3 June, but Affluent Ocean had developed a heavy portside list.
Riviera Maritime Media’s ITS Salvage Webinar Week is being held 15 June 2021 – use this link for more details and to register