The bow section of the bulk carrier MV Smart has been refloated and scuttled off the coast of South Africa about 17 months after the ship wrecked.
Houston-based Titan Salvage, part of Crowley Corp., said it successfully refloated the largest and most challenging section of the wrecked bulk carrier. The section was than towed out to sea and scuttled as planned.
The 151,279 dwt MV Smart was carrying a load of coal when it ran aground in August 2013 as it departed the port of Richards Bay in heavy seas. The ship came to rest along a sandbar just outside the port and broke apart two days later.
The stern section was refloated and scuttled in October 2013 by a team made up South African-based Subtech Group and SMIT Salvage.
By the end of 2013, however, Titan Salvage, including Salvage Master Guy Wood, was called in to lighten, refloat and scuttle the bow, which was said to be the most challenging section because it was partially buried in mud.
For the job, the Titan team deployed its proprietary jack-up barges Karlissa A and Karlissa B, with a combined total of 1,880 meters of clear deck space, to act as a stable work station while pollutants were removed and a hopper barge lightered the remaining cargo. To reduce the weight of the wreck even further, Wood and his team made arrangements to have sand and mud removed from the bow using “air-lift” techniques. The bow was then towed out to sea to an area approved by the South African Maritime Safety Authority where it was scuttled.
Titan says that as challenging as the job was, the team refloated, towed and scuttled the bow in only three days.
“It was a difficult job because there were so many unknowns,” said TITAN’s Gordon Amos, director of operations. “From the very beginning, we had to accurately assess the weight of the bow to determine the lightering process and appropriate pulling forces. This was complicated by the fact that we didn’t know how much mud and cargo filled the forward compartments. Additionally, we were battling five-meter swells and challenging weather conditions. In the end, TITAN made all the right decisions. It was a job well done.”
Titan says it is now preparing for the removal of the Smart’s remaining mid-section, which is expected to be completed in the beginning of next year.