Mammoet Salvage hired to handle toxic WWII submarine

The following is the text of a press release issued by Mammoet Salvage BV:
(SCHIEDAM, Netherlands) — The Norwegian Coastal
Administration (NCA) has decided to award the contract for the possible
salvage of the U-864 submarine and its cargo of mercury to Mammoet Salvage
Two options have been proposed to deal with the environmental
hazard formed by the mercury in the U‑864 submarine: (a) to encase the
wreck and cover the seabed to prevent the spread of the pollution, and (b)
to recover the wreck (salvage) and remove all the pollutants from the
marine environment. Mammoet Salvage has proposed a safe and innovative
salvage solution.
The U-864 time bomb
On 9 February 1945, the German submarine U-864 was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS Venturer. The U-864 sank about two nautical miles west of the island Fedje, just north
of Bergen, with the loss of all 73 on board. The submarine’s cargo included approximately 67 tons of metallic mercury which is highly toxic. As the U-864 was on a mission it was also carrying a full load of weapons. The vessel’s wreckage is considered to be a potential long-term threat to human health and the environment.
Two alternatives
The Norwegian Parliament has to decide if the wreck and its cargo should be
raised to the surface, or be encased on the seabed and the contaminated
sediment capped to prevent the spread of pollutants. Mammoet Salvage has
proposed a method to raise the wreck which satisfies the environmental
requirements. If the Norwegian Parliament approves this method then the
salvage operation is likely to take place in 2010. This decision will
probably be taken before the end of 2008.
An innovative solution
The NCA selected Mammoet Salvage B.V. for the potential salvage of the German
submarine because of the company’s innovative engineered solution. This
together with the experience gained on the remote control salvage of the
Runner 4 in the Baltic Sea last year, has resulted in a safe, fully
remotely-controled operation. With this system Mammoet will raise the
submarine and take away the source of pollution without the need for
anyone working under water. Mammoet Salvage has found a solution to
overcome one of the specific challenges: lifting the wreck from the
unstable seabed.
The Norwegian Parliament now has to decide if the wreck and its cargo should be salvaged forever or be left in place and encased and capped. Extensive experience Mammoet Salvage B.V. and affiliated company Mammoet Norge AS are part of the Mammoet Holding B.V.
(heavy transport and lifting specialists) which was awarded the contract
of the salvage of the Kursk Russian nuclear submarine in 2001. Since then
Mammoet Salvage has carried out a range of salvage projects throughout the
world. The company emphasizes innovative engineered solutions to improve
safety and reduce costs.
By Professional Mariner Staff