Bulldozers utilised in Germany's Kiel Canal salvage operation

30 October 2013 15:57  [Source: ICIS news]

SiderflyLONDON (ICIS)--Bulldozers have been brought in by salvage teams battling to reopen Germany's Kiel Canal – the world's busiest artificial waterway – after damage to a stricken fertilizer vessel was found to be "worse than first thought", an official involved in the large-scale operation disclosed on Wednesday.

State-of-the-art underwater cameras deployed by divers this morning revealed two large holes in the hull of the cargo carrier Siderfly (Pictured. Source: Havariekommando), following her collision with the LPG tanker Coral Ivory in the early hours of Monday morning that left her listing badly near the Port of Brunsbuettel.

"The three tugs that have helped hold the vessel in position will be replaced by three bulldozers as we look to save the ship from the shore. This also means it will be easier to reopen the canal once it's been decided it's safe to do so," said Ulrike Windhoevel, spokeswoman for Germany's Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (Havariekommando).

The gaping hole towards at the front of the vessel measures around 8m x 5m and the second, at the rear, measures about 25m sq, Windhoevel revealed. She added no timeline for the busy canal's reopening has yet been determined but an announcement would be made as soon as possible.

"We are aware of the need to get the canal reopened as quickly as possible, but the damage to the Siderfly is worse than first thought after special underwater cameras were used by salvage teams this morning," she said.

"We expect we will have to remove its cargo of urea with mechanical excavators and the fertilizer will most likely be transferred to a barge. The engine room has still not been cleared of water and the pumps remain in use."

The Dutch-flagged Coral Ivory which carries ammonia for Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International, and the St Vincent and the Grenadines-flagged Siderfly are understood to have been heading in different directions when the accident occurred at 02.56am local time on Monday.

The 116m-long ammonia carrier suffered no significant damage and was able to continue on her journey to Uusikaupunki, Finland, with a few thousand tonnes of the  nitrogen fertilizer. The Siderfly was en route to Antwerp, Belgium.

According to the website of the Kiel Canal, the man-made marine corridor that cuts through the base of the Jutland Pennisula opened in 1895 and currently handles around 35,000 vessels a year, making it the busiest artificial waterway in the world.

By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214

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