She’s bowed, she’s bent, she’s broken but MSC Napoli, subject of The Case Of The Bendy Boxer, seems unwilling to vanish off the face of the planet, or, at least, Branscombe Beach. Once again, weather is coming to the aid of her remains and salvors are suspending operations until spring 2009, two years after her hull cracked in a storm causing her to be beached in January 2007.
To date, 2,800 tonnes of the aft section have been successfully removed, but the remaining section is heavily constructed and proving difficult to dismantle. The engine itself weighs about 1,400 tonnes and partially remains in place. The vessels location and exposure to the elements has about helped salvage activities. There is also an estimated 3,000 tonnes of silt and clay trapped inside the ship and adding substantial weight to the overall structure.
Hugh Shaw, UK Secretary of States Representative, has decided to suspend salvage operations for the remaining stern section of the vessel due to the onset of autumn storms. Says Shaw: “The decision to suspend salvage operations for the `MSC Napoli was necessary to lessen the risks that the onset of harsher autumnal weather would have presented to the safety of the salvors involved, and the local environment. The conditions under which salvors are operating are now becoming increasingly treacherous. During the initial incident no lives were no lost, and my aim is to lessen the risks to anyone involved in the operation during this final phase.”
The suspension will also give the opportunity to look at mobilising specialised equipment to remove the rest of the vessel, in particular its engine. Such equipment is not likely to be available until spring next year.
A Temporary Exclusion Zone (TEZ) of 500 metres remains in place. In addition and prior to the suspension of salvage operations, navigational marks will be deployed around the wreck. Additional counter pollution response measures including personnel and equipment remains in place. Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveillance flights will continue to patrol the area on a regular basis.