Salvage of capsized offshore support vessel Seacor Power is expected to be extended by more than a month after it started to break apart on the seabed
Salvors from Donjon-Smit and Phoenix International have worked on the project, 13 km off the coast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana since the end of April.
Seacor Power capsized on 13 April with the loss of 13 seafarers, as only six of the 19 crew were rescued. Since then, salvors have removed 92,500 litres of diesel fuel and have been preparing to lift the vessel from the seabed.
However, surveys show it has moved and started to crack, making its salvage more time-consuming and lengthier.
Last week, the unified command for this salvage project, consisting of the US Coast Guard (USCG) and Seacor updated stakeholders with progress. Donjon-Smit has warned the potential timeline for refloating the partially sunken lift boat has extended into July. They have been removing obstructions from the seafloor around the vessel and updated information on its structural integrity. The debris removal will create space for the equipment required to raise vessel sections to the surface.
“Seacor Power remains in the same location where it sank but has rotated,” said USCG, “and salvors report cracking and separation of the hull from the superstructure.”
This indicates the structural integrity of the vessel is compromised.
“As a result, the vessel will have to be raised to the surface and brought to shore in separate sections,” said USCG.
Donjon-Smit is outfitting a barge with a pump system to use to raise the lift boat. These pumps will enable the barge to be submerged and manoeuvred under the larger sections of the vessel. Once in place, water is pumped out of the barge and it is refloated with the larger sections on board with assistance from a crane barge on the surface. This method preserves the structural integrity of the recovered section.
“Removal of the largest sections is expected to be complete by the end of June,” said USCG, “but the timeline depends on many factors including the safety of salvage crews, the weather, and any new structural changes that may occur.”
Seacor said it would keep some of its assets in the area until the end of July to recover remaining debris from the seafloor. Its own Seacor Eagle lift boat was used to remove the fuel from Seacor Power. But salvors had to keep 20,450 litres of hydraulic fluid on board the wreck because they could not access the tanks.
USCG has extended a safety zone around Seacor Power to one nautical mile and the Federal Aviation Administration has set a temporary flight restriction zone covering a 5 nautical mile radius around the site and 600-m minimum altitude.
These restrictions will ensure the safety of divers and salvage crews working at the site, and protect mariners from transiting through an active work site where debris and other underwater obstructions, such as anchor wires, mooring ropes, and navigational buoys may be present.
USCG continues to monitor for any oil discharges, and Seacor has an oil spill response organisation standing by to respond to any situation where there is recoverable oil.
The incident is under investigation by USCG and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Elsewhere, tugs have been assisting distressed ships with propulsion issues and groundings.
On 12 June, a bulk carrier was disabled in the Turkish Straits and required emergency towage. Two search and rescue tugs were dispatched to assist Alberta after it suffered rudder failure in the Dardanelles north of Canakkale. The tugs controlled the drifting ship and towed it through the strait to the Marmara Sea, where it was anchored. Alberta was sailing from Singapore to Ambarli, in Turkey with a cargo of steel.
In Denmark, tugs were refloating grounded general cargo ship Rix Emerald, which was loaded with manure. Rix Emerald grounded in Randers Fjord on 11 June while transiting from Rostock, Germany. There were no leaks, hull breaches or danger to crew, and ship lane traffic is unaffected.
In Thailand, emergency responders were attempting to free a cargo ship and tug that grounded during storm conditions. Container ship Namthong 39 grounded on a beach in Koh Phra Thong Island in the Andaman Sea after being battered by high winds.
Tugboat YKP Marine responded, but in its attempt to refloat the container ship, it was washed onto the beach. Other tugs have been dispatched to free these vessels from the sand.
Riviera Maritime Media’s ITS Salvage Webinar Week is being held from 15 June 2021 – use this link for more details and to register