The construction barge Agronauta, which went aground at Benalmádena, Spain on Friday, has gained considerable attention over the past few days. Tourists are arriving in droves to take in the town's new beachfront view – and to use the strange-looking vessel as a backdrop for photos.
Maria Jose-Malaga / twitter
The Agronauta has also become a popular target for social media sendups and online pranks: someone even put the wreck up for sale on a real estate site as a "multi-use aquatic platform, ideal for treasure-hunting or fiestas in international waters" – exclusively available to buyers with salvage tugs of 15,000 hp or more.
City officials have asked the barge's owner to pay for security measures after several incidents involving over-curious onlookers, including a "visitor" who boarded the Agronauta and climbed its superstructure for a selfie. The vessel continues to roll with the waves at high tide, creating a hazard for anyone who tries to board it, and the municipality wants to keep unwary tourists out of harm's way.
On April 28, the platform was under way from Cartagena to Cadiz under tow by the Portuguese-flagged tug Monte da Luz. Conditions worsened during the journey, and the Monte lost the tow in heavy weather. The response tugs Vehintiocho and Salvamar Alnitak attempted to intervene, but they were not able to reconnect because the backup tow line had wrapped around the barge itself. Continued foul weather also interfered with the attempted recovery.
Victor Navas / twitter
The Agronauta has a minimal quantity of fuel on board – about 150 liters – and pollution is not a significant concern. The owner and the local captain of the port are working on a plan to refloat the barge when conditions are favorable, and the effort will likely begin within the next two weeks.
The Portuguese-flagged Agronauta is a semi-submersible floating factory for making cement blocks. The construction conglomerate Ferrovial uses the unique vessel for fabricating caissons and other port infrastructure, and has deployed it for marine construction projects in Barcelona, Algeciras and Menorca, among other locations.
The Agronauta at work (Edytesa)