27 Companies in Bid for Sewol Salvage Contract

Sewol Ferry

Published Jun 24, 2015 10:44 PM by Kathryn Stone

A total of 27 domestic and international companies have submitted bids to salvage the Sewol ferry that sank last year, killing over 300 people.

Both South Korean and foreign companies are vying for the contract, which has an allocated budget of $91.6 million. There are seven consortia represented in the bids. Five groups are made up of international and Korean salvage companies, while the other two consist of only local companies.

Twenty-seven companies are involved in the bidding process including one in Denmark, one in the Netherlands and two in the U.S. and China respectively.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) opened tender for the project in late May and officially closed bidding June 23.  An evaluation committee comprised of internal and external experts will begin reviewing the submitted proposals in early July. As part of the review process, the committee will conduct technical evaluations over a two-day period at a restricted site.

Preference will be given to companies that demonstrate superior technological capability, as the South Korean government has emphasized the need to recover the ferry and missing bodies in the best condition possible.

According to the Yonhap news agency, all bidders will be evaluated on a 100-point scale, with technological capability making up 90% of the assessment criteria.

The SEWOL ferry sank in April of last year killing 304 people, mostly school children. The disaster has caused the IMO to call for increased safety measures on shortsea passenger voyages and has resulted in widespread public outcry in South Korea.

The ferry is located beneath 44 meters (144 feet) of water and is embedded in 1.5 meters (5 feet) of sediment. Since the vessel was built over 20 years ago, there is considerable concern over corrosion leading to structural weakening. There are believed to be nine bodies still onboard the sunken ship.

The MOF said that the salvage of the 6,825-ton ferry has no prior precedent, however it is committed to selecting the company which best represents the nation’s interests.