South Korea has selected a China-led consortium as the preferred bidder for a multi-million dollar contract to raise the sunken Sewol ferry.
South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced Wednesday that a consortium led by China’s state-run Shanghai Salvage and involving South Korean-based Ocean C&I has been selected to move forward with negotiations for the contract to raise the vessel.
The Shanghai consortium beat out six others competing for the tender with a bid of 85.1 billion won ($74 million). Consortiums led by China’s Yantai Salvage and the U.S. firm Titan Salvage were next in line with bids of 99 billion won and 99.9 billion won, respectively. Only one of the consortiums was disqualified because it was determined that it lacked the technical expertise for the job.
Before work can begin, South Korea and the Shanghai consortium still need to agree on the method to raise the vessel and detailed terms and conditions before a final contract is signed.
The consortium’s plan calls for the sunken ferry to be refloated by only a few meters so it can be moved onto a steel platform that will then be lifted to the surface.
The Sewol ferry sank April 19, 2015 near Jindo, South Korea with the loss of more than 300 lives, most of them high school students on a class trip. The wreck lies at a depth of 44 meters.
The South Korean government made its decision to salvage the vessel in April after a government committee concluded that it would be technically possible. The government has said it hopes to begin the work in September.