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T&T Salvage works around torpedo to refloat containership

Sep 16, 2014 10:11 AM

World War II-era ordnance adds to the difficulty of the operation off Saipan

The following is the text of a news release from T&T Salvage:

(SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands) (Sept. 15) — T&T Salvage and its strategic response partner, Cabras Marine, successfully refloated a 17,000-ton fully cellular containership that went aground near Micro Beach in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. The prompt action of the Hamburg-based vessel owners resulted in the immediate activation of their OPA 90 vessel response plan (VRP) and T&T Salvage as their pre-contracted salvage provider. 

Tugs, pollution response gear, specialty pumping gear, and a 12-strong T&T-Cabras Marine team was dispatched to manage the salvage operation. What began as a typical grounding response quickly turned into anything but when the initial dive survey turned up a World War II-era torpedo and other unexploded ordnance around the vessel. The salvage operations were immediately suspended and the vessel crew was evacuated until an explosives ordinance disposal (EOD) team could be activated to assess the risk.

Upon inspection of the casualty site, the EOD team made the initial determination that the devices did not pose a serious threat; however, there was yet another twist in store for the salvage team as severe weather was now approaching the island and threatening the vessel. Salvage master Albert Dai knew a refloating attempt needed to be made immediately. With no time to waste and with the support and agreement of the Unified Command led by the USCG federal on-scene coordinator, the salvage plan was promptly approved by the Unified Command. 

The salvage team and vessel crew quickly returned to the vessel, and after reducing the ground reaction, the vessel was safely maneuvered to deep water with the assistance of three Cabras tugs. Oil Spill Response Operating Company (OSROCo) also had personnel and equipment on standby for immediate response, in the event of any oil spill during the refloating process. Once afloat, the vessel was shifted to a safe berth where an underwater inspection of the hull was carried out.

There were no injuries and no pollution during this potentially dangerous operation. "It was a stressful couple of hours," said T&T President Mauricio Garrido, "but in the end the T&T and Cabras team worked together flawlessly and redelivered the vessel safely."                                                

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