2 Dec 2019

Removal of wrecked ship in New Caledonia questioned

10:46 am on 2 December 2019

Plans to dismantle the wreck of the Kea Trader container ship in New Caledonia are such that it might be best to leave it, a confidential report says.

The Kea Trader

The Kea Trader Photo: AFP

The new 184-metre freighter had run at full speed into the Durand Reef near Mare in 2017 after which debris and oil began spilling into the ocean.

The immediate salvage operation involved pumping more than half a million litres of fuel out of the wreck which in a storm eventually broke in two.

Last year, the ship's owner hired China's Shanghai Salvage Company to remove the wreck but scientists have cast doubt on the sense of the exercise.

In a report seen by the Nouvelles Caledoniennes, scientists say the unprecedented procedure using a semi-submersible platform for the operation would impact the reef.

They also fear that the frequent strong storms may jeopardise the salvage plans.

The New Caledonian government is in favour of proceeding with the dismantling of the Kea Trader wreck.

An investigation into the grounding by the maritime safety authority of Malta, where the vessel was registered, said although the ship had top navigational equipment, its crew ignored warnings.

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