he Baltic Ace car carrier, sailing under a Bahamas flag, is seen in this undated handout photo released to Reuters by FleetMon.com December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Ian Johnston/FleetMon.com/Handout

The Baltic Ace car carrier, sailing under a Bahamas flag, is seen in this undated handout photo released to Reuters by FleetMon.com December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Ian Johnston/FleetMon.com/Handout

Dutch police have identified a body found on 19 December, 20 nautical miles west of IJmuiden, as that of the 31 year-old Polish first mate of the Baltic Ace, a RoRo that sank within minutes 5 December  2012 after colliding with container vessel Corvus J.

The body was found by a fisherman and then subsequently transferred to port by a rescue boat and handed over to the police who established positive fingerprint identification.

11 of 24 crewmembers were killed as a result and only 5 bodies were recovered immediately following the incident.  The positive identification by authorities of the first mate marks the sixth body recovered.

Salvage operations suspended

In phone call with Svitzer Salvage spokesperson Cor Radings, he noted the recovery and removal of oil from the Baltic Ace has been temporarily suspended.

“Due to the low temperature of the surrounding water the oils inside the ship have solidified, our team of salvage experts discovered earlier this week. Samples that have been taken from the vessel’s bunker tanks show that the oil should best be removed and stored at higher tempatures, meaning the method to remove the oil has to be revised.”

According to Mr. Radings there are several options to increase the temperature of the oil. “One way is to inject hot water into the oil tanks, another way is to insert a heating spiral.”

These kind of operations however are difficult.

“The weather conditions at the scene are harsh. Because of the high waves, the windows in which can be worked are very short.” Cor Radings said it is not unlikely that new operations will be pushed forward until weather conditions improve.

Whether Svitzer will be carrying out following operations is yet unknown. “In consultation with the owner and insurers of the Baltic Ace the contract with Svitzer has been ended”, Radings said. “They will first make a new assessment before taking any further actions.”

“Before returning to IJmuiden our salvage team has blinded off the ventilation pipes of the Baltic Ace to minimize any potential leakage.” The diving support/supply vessel VOS Statisfaction, that functioned as a base ship during the operations, has been released from her duties.

- By Tobias Pieffers, Edited by Rob Almeida

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