Work continues around the clock to remove a large bulk carrier from the shores of Mauritius after it ran aground last month following an incident involving a member of the ship’s crew.
An update Monday from salvage company Five Oceans Salvage said the Liberian-flagged MV Benita remains hard aground but in stable condition off Mahebourg, Mauritius as crews explore options to refloat the vessel, including one that involves the use of explosives. Despite a number of its tanks flooded, the deck and side plates of the vessel do not appear to show signs of stress.
Priority at the moment continues to be the removal of all fuel oil on board via helicopter, which Five Oceans Salvage reports is making good progress. So far over 150 specialized storage containers containing contaminated fuel and oil have been moved to shore, however a “substantial quantity” of fuel oil remains in the Benita’s two double bottom tanks, Five Oceans says.
The tug Ionian Sea FOS continues to have a line connected to the Benita’s stern and is maintaining constant tension around the clock to prevent the vessel from shifting position in the weather and waves. A second tug, the Coral Sea FOS, arrived on scene over the weekend and also connected to the stern Monday morning.
No further oil residue or pollution has been observed around the vessel, although anti-pollution booms remain in place along the surrounding shoreline as a precaution.
The second phase of the salvage involves preparation for the ship’s refloating. Five Oceans reports that a salvage team has managed to restart one of the vessels auxiliary engines thus restoring auxiliary power on board the vessel, including the use of the vessel’s cranes and windlasses.
A team of 25 welders, fitters and assistants working onboard are making progress preparing the double bottom tanks and cargo holds for pressurization for the refloating attempt.
Unfortunatley, Five Oceans has confirmed that a diving supervisor suffered a spinal injury last week when he fell from a height inside hold number 3. The victim was given first aid on scene and later transferred by helicopter to a nearby hospital in Port Louis. The victim is expected to make a full recovery.
Working on scene is a team of 45 salvage personnel and subcontractors stationed on board the vessel, plus three senior personnel coordinating from ashore.
Interestingly, Five Oceans has also mobilized a demolitions expert from the United States to explore the possibility of using explosives to clear rocks from underneath the vessel in order to free it.
The MV Benita ran aground June 17 after one of its crew members supposedly suffered a medical episode that led him to attack a fellow crew member and lock himself inside the engine room where he caused significant damage, resulting in the ship losing power and running aground.
The MV Benita was not carrying any cargo at the time of the incident.