TSAVLIRIS SALVAGE GROUP - News & Announcements
TSAVLIRIS pulls off "GOLDEN SKY" Mission 'Impossible' - 2007 Mar 21
GREEK salvage group TSAVLIRIS appears to have pulled off a coup in the Baltic, successfully refloating the bulk carrier "GOLDEN SKY" which ran hard aground five miles off Ventspils in January. Earlier, experts argued that the operation, which took place in harsh, sub-zero conditions, would prove 'impossible'.
The success comes after three months and an operation bill that is believed to have already exceeded $4m. A spokesman for TSAVLIRIS said about 8,500 tonnes of the cargo had been discharged from the vessel at the same time as 'several thousand tonnes of water' while the ship's double bottom tanks had been pressurised for as much buoyancy as possible. The 1985-built handysize vessel was refloated at the weekend, 'just in the nick of time' before the area was slammed by 60-knot winds that might have caused it to break up. Fuels and lubricants had been removed from the ship, but the bulker still contains about 16,500 tonnes of its cargo of muriate potash, most of which has been soaked or is wet and fuel contaminated and thus a pollution hazard. Only about 3,800 tonnes in the first hold is considered still sound.
The TSAVLIRIS spokesman said: 'This was an extremely difficult operation, which is still ongoing. There was continuous bad weather, which interrupted our efforts as well as sub-zero temperatures in which some of the equipment was unable to work.' Temperatures during the operation were said to have plummeted as low as 27C.
Negative initial reaction to the salvors' plan was said to have come from, among others, the ship's P&I insurer and no less venerable a salvage guru than Klaas Reinigert, an ex-managing director of SMIT TAK, who was the initial special casualty representative for the case. Rival salvage outfits proposed leaving the ship until spring then trying to remove it under a wreck contract.
TSAVLIRIS estimated yesterday that it may take another two weeks to complete discharging of the cargo. 'There is still a lot to do to remove [the vessel] to a safe place to avoid the risk of pollution,' said Thanassis Samios of SAMIOS SHIPPING, the ship's managing company in Piraeus. 'Then we will be able to talk of a great success,' said Mr Samios, who confirmed that much opinion predicted the casualty could not be refloated during the Baltic winter. The company said the "GOLDEN SKY" will be declared a constructive total loss as repair costs will exceed insurance but a final decision on its fate has not been taken.
Published in Lloyds List 21.3.07