June 11, 2007
Hull breach in grounded bulker
A salvage team aboard the grounded coal carrier Pasha Bulker confirms that the outer hull has been breached and is taking on water on the starboard side, reports Australian broadcaster ABC.
The 76,781 dwt bulker grounded at Nobbys Beach, Newcastle, New South Wales, just before 10am Friday 8 June during gale force winds and high seas. The 22 crew were safely airlifted off the vessel the same day.
The Pasha Bulker is owned by Japanese shipowner Fukujin Kisen Co. and on charter to Denmarks Lauritzen Bulkers, which says that it "sublet the bulk carrier to another Japanese shipping company. The ship was delivered from Sasebo Heavy Industries last year.
A 10-member salvage team and three members of the crew were air lifted aboard Saturday afternoon and worked throughout the night and yesterday to assess the structure and the vessel.
The team restored some power to the vessel and has been testing onboard systems as part of the assessment, this included starting the ship's generators and boilers during the day.
CEO of Newcastle Port Corporation, Gary Webb, said the salvage team was developing a plan in an attempt to safely float the vessel off Nobbys Beach.
"Equipment is being brought in nationally and internationally to assist in the salvage operation which is being co-ordinated through an Incident Response Centre at Newcastle Port Corporation," said Webb.
ABC reports that a specialized salvage tug has arrived and a second one will arrive on Wednesday.
ABC reports Webb as saying that despite the break in the hull, authorities say there is no immediate threat of any fuel spill.
"What you have is an outer skin of a vessel and then you have a cargo hold on the inside," Webb said.
"The space between the cargo hold and the outer skin is the double bottom space," he explained. "That's about a metre high. That's the part that's flooded at the moment."
A Lauritzen statement notes that the Pasha Bulker had been at anchorage off the coast of Newcastle since May 23, waiting to approach the terminal in order to load a cargo of coal. When it ran aground, the vessel had no cargo aboard, but had some 800 tons of bunkers oil in its tanks. Some 60 others vessels were also at anchorage off the coast in order to approach the terminal when severe weather hit the area.