Inside Look: Salvaging the MV Danio from UK’s Farne Islands

Danio aground on . Image courtesy Titan Salvage.
MV Danio aground on the UK’s protected Farne Islands. Image courtesy Titan Salvage.

There’s aground, and then there’s HARD AGROUND. In the case of the M/V Danio it was most definitely the latter.┬áBut considering TITAN Salvage has been tasked with refloating the Costa Concordia, this job almost seems like a walk in the park.

On March 16th, the M/V Danio, which was carrying a load of timber and en route to Belgium from Scotland, ran aground at Farne Islands, an environmentally sensitive area off the coast of Northumberland, England. The onset of severe weather conditions prevented an immediate attempt to tow the Danio from the coastline.

Because the Farne Islands – home to thousands of puffins and grey seals, as well as more than 20 bird species – is classified as a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI), TITAN had to take extra precautions to safeguard the environment.

Titan’s Jason Bennett, commercial director, and his team of salvors took quick action to establish safety of the vessel, immediately deploying a tugboat and preparing for a controlled and safe re-floating operation.

Danio was ballasted down to the rocky sea bottom while the salvage team repaired damage to the vessel’s skeg and other areas, which required cement boxing, shoring and patching before the vessel could be refloated and towed away. Portable pumps were also installed and used during re-float and transit to safety.

Salvage Master Mark Loughlin, of C Waves, a London-based independent maritime and engineering consultancy contracted by TITAN, transferred to Danio after initial assessment and remained on board throughout the operation. He was joined by TITAN’s salvage team, which worked in difficult conditions to ensure that the ship remained secure in the deteriorating weather conditions, which were marked by high seas and swells (up to seven meters), freezing rain and gale-force winds.

When it was determined that conditions were too extreme for supplies to be brought in via helicopter, Bennett and his team partnered with local fishermen who ferried in equipment and provisions. The TITAN team also worked closely with Briggs Marine Environmental, which provided spill-prevention equipment, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP), the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Environment Group (EG) and the National Trust, alongside the ship’s owner and insurers, to ensure vessel security and environmental protection.

Finally on March 28th, during a brief window of suitable tides, Danio was successfully refloated without incident with the assistance of the chartered tugboat Lomax.

“TITAN worked quickly to ensure that there were sufficient people and equipment on site in a timely manner,” said the company’s Rich Habib, managing director. “In addition to prioritizing protection of the environment, the two-week salvage job was successful in large part because of TITAN’s excellent working relationships with the authorities and client.”

Hugh Shaw, Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, said of the successful job: “I am delighted that the salvors have successfully re-floated the ship without any damage to the environment. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks to all concerned with the operation. In particular I would like to thank Titan Salvage for their professionalism in carrying out the operation in the extremely difficult weather conditions experienced since the grounding.”

No spills or damage to the region were reported as a result of the incident or salvage work.