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Salvors Rescue Grounded Containership with Hazardous Cargo on Board

By The Maritime Executive 01-14-2011 10:39:12

NETHERLANDS-based towage and salvage specialist Multraship and Belgian salvage operator URS Salvage & Maritime Contracting have refloated the 39,900 gt, Singapore-flag containership Kota Lagu, which grounded in the River Scheldt with hazardous cargo on board on October 25.

The 2006-built vessel grounded after suffering rudder failure near Ossenisse on the River Scheldt, between Hansweert and Antwerp, during ebb tide. Working under a Lloyd’s Open Form agreement, Multraship and URS immediately mobilised an experienced salvage team and six tugs. The salvors tried to refloat the vessel on the same tide, but the water level had fallen too far and the operation had to wait for the next tide, at around midnight.

Because the vessel had hazardous cargo on board, local authorities declared a ‘High Alert’ situation, and the salvors accordingly made provision for a potential major incident by mobilising further tugs, salvage professionals, booms, pumps, and lighters for bunker discharge. In the event, eight tugs were able to refloat the vessel on the next tide and subsequently towed it to the Scheldepoort yard at Flushing, where it was redelivered to its owners.

Leendert Muller, managing director of Multraship, says, “This was another incident which served to illustrate the essential nature of the professional salvage industry, and the importance of having immediate access to its resources and expertise. Working closely with the local authorities, we were able to avert a potentially catastrophic outcome, given the presence on board the vessel of hazardous cargo.”

Peter Vierstraete, general manager of URS, adds, “The fact that we were able to refloat the vessel on this occasion without major incident should not disguise the continuing need to ensure that the resources are available, and in position, to deal with such emergencies.”

Photo: Kota Lagu refloating operation