Grounded Benita Won’t Be Blown to Pieces in Mauritius

The MV Benita aground in  Mahebourg, Mauritius.
The MV Benita aground in Mahebourg, Mauritius.

The salvors behind the refloating of the MV Benita are downplaying the use of explosives to remove the vessel from the rocks in Mauritius, saying any use would be ‘very limited’ in nature to avoid further damage to the vessel and the environment.

The vessel has made headlines in recent weeks after an episode involving one of the ship’s crew members on June 17 ended with the ship hard aground, the crew member arrested, and the media dubbing whole thing the ‘mutiny ship’. Last week, the wreck grabbed even more headlines after the salvage firm behind the job, Five Oceans Salvage, said it had hired a U.S. demolitions expert to explore the use of explosives to free the vessel from the rocks. 

In an salvage update issued on Wednesday, Five Oceans reported that as the operation continues the vessel remains aground in a stable condition with the deck and side plates not exhibiting any signs of undue stress. 

Two tugs, Ionian Sea FOS and Coral Sea FOS, continue to have lines connected to the Benita’s stern in order to provide constant tension and prevent excessive movement of the vessel, as the last of ship’s fuel oil is removed.

The company says that the overriding majority of the 145 tonnes of fuel on board has now been removed ashore, and pumping equipment is now in place to remove the small quantity remaining in the fuel tanks. No further oil residue or pollution has been observed around the vessel and booms remain in place along the surrounding shoreline only as a precaution.

Five Oceans added that reports that some 5,000 tons of fuel were lost are not correct, as the MV Benita carried a maximum of 145 mt of fuel oil at the time of the grounding – the vast majority of which has been safely recovered, the company said.

As for the explosives, Five Oceans reports that the demolitions expert continues to assist salvors and authorities with the possibility of using low impact explosives on the rocks underneath the vessel in order to release it.

“It should be noted that any use of explosives would, by necessity, be very limited in order to avoid further damage to the vessel and the environment,” the update said.

Meanwhile, the diving supervisor who was injured in a fall at the wreck site last week continues his recovery in a hospital in Port Louis and is expected to make a full recovery.

So for now this story is to be continued…