TITAN Salvage removes accommodations block from sunken ship, New Flame, in Gibraltar

(POMPANO, FLA. – AUGUST 13, 2008) TITAN Salvage, Crowley Maritime Corporation’s salvage and wreck removal company reported today that its salvage team on site in Gibraltar responding to the wreck of the bulk ship New Flame took a major step forward in the project last week when salvors removed the wreck’s 600-ton accommodations block.

The lift of the accommodations block was performed using the Taklift VI, a large  sheerleg crane capable of lifting up to 1,200 tons.  The Taklift VI was mobilized from Brazil following a global search by TITAN salvors for the vessel best suited for the remaining phases of the wreck removal project.

With the removal of the accommodations block complete, the wreck is no longer visible from above the water and the only sign that parts of the wreck still remain are the ongoing activities of the salvors still working on site “In addition to removing the accommodation block we have recovered over 75 percent (32,000 tons) of the scrap metal cargo with very few problems,” said Dan Schwall, project manager for TITAN. “The scrap has since been transported to a facility in Portugal by way of a 4,000-ton coaster vessel in 10 individual shipments. Now we intend to remove the hull in fairly large sections by cutting it with TITAN pullers – a method preferred over cutting from cranes in the open ocean environment.”

With the accommodations block now removed, salvors can begin the process of removing the remaining cargo (1,500 tons) from the number five cargo hold, which was left  in place to serve as ballast to prevent the ship’s stern from rolling over, Schwall said.

The next lifts will be pieces of the wreck – cut in surgical fashion – to enable  access as quickly as possible to any other remaining cargo on the wreck currently trapped under collapsed side shell on the port side of the ship.  Once the remaining cargo is accessible, salvors will reposition the cargo recovery barge back on the wreck site and recover remaining cargo prior to removing the primary hull structure.

“This is the largest wreck removal operation being undertaken in the world today,” said Todd Busch, TITAN vice president. “It is a difficult job, but with our international team of salvage/wreck removal experts and specialized vessels and equipment from  around the world, we know that we can safely complete the operation as planned. Foremost in our plan is preventing and mitigating the release of hydrocarbons and avoiding any and all forms of pollution while cutting the wreck.  Only the safety of life takes priority over our concern for the environment”.

The New Flame sank following a collision while exiting the port of Gibraltar in  August of last year and now lies in the open ocean off Gibraltar’s Europa Point. The ship was loaded with over 42,000 tons of scrap metal, which was being transported from New York Harbor to Turkey for recycling.

By Professional Mariner Staff