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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MSC Luciana successfully refloated - what is salvage in Marine

Mishaps do occur – some are sudden, accidental, fortuitous.  All adventures carry certain risk element.  Some risks can be insured against. 

There are variety of ships that set to conquer the ocean ferrying cargo in different forms forming the backbone of trade and commerce.  A vessel, howsoever big it is could still suffer a setback by so many perils, especially – the perils of the sea.  Perils of the Sea are fortuitous accidents or casualties peculiar to navigable waters in the nature of violent waves or wind (not ordinary action of winds and waves), collision, striking submerged objects, running aground and sinking.  Though the probability is much less, vessels do run aground as experienced by many sailors.  The vessel may not touch the bottom but still could get struck in sands, shoals, sandbars, shallow waters and more.. and be damaged.  Sometimes the tide’s rising might help; there could be possible help from current, wind, change in weather.  The design of the vessel also has much to do with the refloating but still ‘running aground’ is a grave threat to the vessel and its laden cargo.

Those struck to the ground and not in a position to move, are pulled and refloated back to its sailing ways in what is known as ‘marine salvaging’.  It would encompass towing, refloating, patching, repairing and more activities. From time immemorial, going by Maritime practices, whosoever saves another person’s ship or cargo from peril or loss at sea is entitled to a reward commensurate with the value of saved property.  Those engaged in this profession are known as ‘salvors’ who specialize in salvaging vessels.  They use specialized equipments such as tugs, cranes, dry docks, and divers for lifting, repairing and moving the vessel to safety.   Professionally, salvage is rendered on ‘no cure no pay’ basis and presently  Lloyd's Open Form, formally Lloyd's Standard Form of Salvage Agreement,  is the standard legal document in vogue.  The fee to be paid is  determined later in London by a professional arbitrator considering the value at risk and the dangers and difficulty in effecting salvage.

Geneva based major shipping line which operates 468 vessels and thousands of TEU containers - Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A.  had another experience of its large container ship running aground.  Yesterday (19/9/11), a big 363 meter containership MSC Luciana,  outbound from Antwerp lost engine power and ran aground on a sandbar in the Westerschelde, approximately 140 kilometers southwest of Amsterdam.  It reportedly an outgoing tide and hence stated to be more complicated.  The vessel  enroute Antwerp-Felixstowe ran aground on the Wester Scheldt at Nieuwvliet. The pilot had tried to get the ship out of the waterway after engine problems occurred, but then the vessel got stuck.  Fortunately, the agrounding was not on the channel and was not an obstruction to  passing ship traffic.

The technical details of the vessel are :

Vessel type:Container Ship;  IMO Number:9398383;  Flag:  Panama
Gross tonnage:   131,771 tons
Summer DWT:    130,804 tons
Length:             363 m
Beam:               46 m
Draught:            15.4 m

Administrative Information:
Class society:       Germanischer Lloyd
Build year:           2009
Builder:               Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan, South Korea
Owner:                Mediterranean Shipping, Geneva, Switzerland
Manager:             Mediterranean Shipping, Geneva, Switzerland

Following the mishap six tugs of Multraship and URS as well as the "RW782 of Rijkswaterstaat attempted to salve the vessel. After a first salvage attempt failed, it was expected that the vessel would not be able to refloat before the next flood which was expected at 6.46 p.m.

 tugs trying to salve Luciana - photo

Though it may not occur easily and may not be this successful everytime, there are reports that the vessel was successfully refloated and proceeded to the nearby Zeebrugge for inspection.  No reports of injuries or pollution being released.   The boxship had 7,000 containers on board at the time of the grounding.

According to the reports of :, its latest position was given as : 51°19’56.64” N, 3°11’35.81” W  - safely moored at Zeebrugges at 13:00:19 UTC on 19th Sept. 11

Zeebrugge  is a village on the coast of Belgium  known for its modern port.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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