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Marco Polo Ferry is Refloated and Will be Brought to Swedish Port Tomorrow

ferry refloated
Tugs secured the ferry as the salvage team pressurized the damaged areas to refloat the Marco Polo (Swedish Coast Guard)

Published Nov 1, 2023 3:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The grounded ferry Marco Polo (15,955 gross tons) was successfully refloated today with only minimal additional environmental impact. The salvage operation is expected to be completed on Thursday, November 2, although the oil cleanup is expected to continue far longer.

Salvage teams from SMIT began the work around 0700 this morning and were able to free the 493-foot RoRo from the spot off the Swedish coast where she has been stuck since early on the morning of October 22. The refloating was achieved by pressurizing the compartments near the breach in the hull. After about 45 minutes, the report said the vessel was afloat and free of the area.

Two tugs were used to move the Marco Polo to a predetermined anchorage approximately one nautical mile to the southeast. TT-Line which owns the ferry reports that the ship dropped its anchors at 0920 at the new location. After anchoring the vessel, divers were sent to conduct a more thorough investigation of the hull and determine the full extent of the damage that resulted from the vessel touching bottom and later grounding on October 22. Last Sunday, October 29, a high swell in the area also caused the Marco Polo to shift before it again became stuck near the small coastal island of Han?, in southeastern Sweden.

The Swedish Coastguard is reporting that “The oil spill was less than feared in connection with the move,” today. They said the decision not to pressurize the damaged fuel tank during the refloating operation helped to minimize the additional release of fuel from the ship. The damaged tank held approximately 160 cubic meters of oil before the accident.

The Coastguard had several units on-site on Wednesday and cleaned up the small amount of oil found at sea. Previously, they had reported retrieving a total of 50 cubic meters of oil and oil waste from the water. They are only responsible for the oil in the water with other teams working to clean the oil that has washed ashore.

The salvage company has notified the Coastguard and the Swedish Transport Agency that they intend to tow the Marco Polo into Stillerydshamnen in Karlshamn on Thursday morning. The work will begin at 0800 and is expected to last until midday. Previous reports had said the salvage team would be working to remove the additional fuel from the vessel while the port is prepared to handle the ship.

Under Swedish law, the Coastguard will be able to fine TT-Line for the cleanup operation. The public prosecutor in Sweden has already fined the ferry’s captain and third officer after accusing them of negligence in the navigation of the vessel. It was determined the officers were only using the vessel’s electronic chat system despite there being fog and they were traveling at night. The Swedish authorities faulted them for not using other resources including radar or having added a lookout due to the conditions. After the grounding, the Swedish authorities safely evacuated the 75 passengers and non-essential crew from the Marco Polo.