TSAVLIRIS SALVAGE GROUP - News & Announcements

TSAVLIRIS completes record three-month ‘VARYAG’ towage - 2002 Mar 05

The TSAVLIRIS SALVAGE GROUP has delivered the half-finished aircraft carrier "VARYAG" to her new owners in China at the end of a marathon towage operation lasting 110 days.


"NIKOLAY CHIKER" at 40,000 hp the world's largest, most powerful salvage tug, towed the 67,000 dwt Kuznetsov-class carrier from the Aegean Sea to Dalian, China, successfully handing over the vessel after waiting on 3rd March 2002 for fog to clear off the Chinese coast. The TSAVLIRIS-operated tug covered the 15,200 nautical mile towage at an average speed of 6 knots, calling for bunkers and supplies at Piraeus, Las Palmas, Maputo and Singapore en route.


The contract between TSAVLIRIS RUSS and Agencia Turistica E Diversoes Chong Lot Limited of Macau dates back to last November after the Ukrainian-built carrier was towed through the Straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles with "NIKOLAY CHIKER" playing the all-important "braking" and steering role in the convoy.


At 984 ft X 124.5 ft X 36 ft, the rudderless, engine-less carrier was thought to represent a hazard in the straits but this leg of her journey was completed without mishap. After "NIKOLAY CHIKER" disconnected, fierce early November gales in the Aegean caused the "VARYAG" to break loose from her towing tugs and drift dangerously close to the island of Skyros and Evia.


Following this incident, the giant TSAVLIRIS-operated tug was rehired by Agencia Turistica to secure the carrier and perform the Mediterranean leg of the towage odyssey. This agreement was extended on November to cover the entire towage to China, passing through the Straits of Gibraltar and the Malacca Straits.


The fixtures relating to the "NIKOLAY CHIKER" as lead tug were undertaken by London brokers Samuel Stewart whereas other tugs involved in towage or escort roles (i.e "Sable Cape" and "Siu Jui 201") were fixed through other sources.


In spite of the fact that "NIKOLAY CHIKER" and her sister tug "FOTIY KRYLOV" have both performed a number of major ocean towages recently, this latest operation was the longest towage ever performed by either of the giant vessels.


It is noteworthy that the huge "NIKOLAY CHIKER" consumed over 4,000 tonnes of fuel during the operations.


The "VARYAG", which has been structurally complete for a decade, became the property of the Ukraine after the end of the Cold War and was sold in 1998, since when she has attracted media headlines all over the world. The buyers of the carrier have announced plans to convert her into a floating casino, while there has been international speculation that she may be used as a model for the creation of a Chinese fleet of aircraft carriers.