An aerial view of the salvage operations. The green, blue and orange vessel is an anchor handling tug. She provided additional lift in case the dredger became stuck on the seabed. Picture courtesy SAMSA
The Chinese owned and built backactor dredger JIN HANG BO 53 (named by SAMSA as the JIN TAI) sank in the Port of Ngqura during dredging operations in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2012. There were no lives lost nor any injuries.
The dredger sank in shallow waters next to the extensions to the container terminal, and was left with part of the vessel showing above water. After protracted preparations the salvage of the sunken dredger met with success this past weekend when on Sunday, 22 January at 16h00 the dredger was refloated to the surface. SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) said in a statement yesterday that the salvage team from Smit Amandla Marine consisting of marine master mariners, marine engineers, naval architects, salvage divers and maritime surveyors all contributed to the sequence of plugging openings, sealing compartments, calculating the different stability criteria and making the vessel watertight for a safe salvage.
“The first priority was for the fuel and hydraulic oil tanks to be discharged ashore thereby minimising any threat of oil pollution. Engine room, workshop, other tanks and void spaces had to be pumped out, providing buoyant lift to the dredger’s hull for floating.”
One of the three uprights (dredging support spuds) remains stuck in the seabed as the support cable is broken. Suitable repairs are being carried out in order to raise the spuds for stowing.
The red & white backactor arm and digging bucket, weighing approximately 250 tons, is being supported in the spoil barge’s hopper. This extended arm & bucket has a huge destabillising force if not supported at full extension.
The next job calls for specialised cleaning and maintenance teams to commence cleaning the interior and flushing the machinery and engines to preserve them. Some machinery is being made functional in order to correctly stow the backactor into the transportation position, aft to forward along the centreline, said Captain Nigel Campbell, executive manager, SAMSA Southern Region.
“SAMSA’s involvement in the mitigation of pollution and of wreck removal is now completed.”