Operation to Refloat Belle Rose Under Way

Belle Rose aground on Monad Shoal coral (image courtesy earthrace)

By MarEx 2016-06-19 21:43:07

On Saturday, the operation to refloat the grounded bulker Belle Rose from a protected coral reef in the Philippines began, with two tugboats pulling at the stern and one guiding the bow. 

The effort began at high tide in the morning and was paused after an hour and a half for additional deballasting from her forward tanks; salvors are using three portable pumps to remove water as the Rose's ballast pump has failed. 

Malayan Towage and Salvage is leading the effort, and a spokesman for the firm said that the Rose had moved about 250 feet astern during the first attempt. "The movement was due to high tide and the discharge of water from the forward section of the vessel," said Noel Kimmayong, the salvors' superintendent. 

The operation was suspended for the day as the tide receded; salvors will be aided today for their next attempt by a slightly higher high tide. 

An inspector who participated in the planning effort for the refloat said that she was aground at the bow in 30 feet of water and would need about 36 feet to refloat. At the stern she had about 42 feet of water depth. Divers have placed underwater markers for monitoring her path back off the shoal.

The 50,000 dwt, Panamanian-flagged Rose went onto the shark sanctuary and dive destination of Monad Shoal off Daanbantayan, Cebu province on June 13, damaging about 3,000 square meters of reefs. Her captain, Vichar Neil delos Reyes, told authorities that the vessel changed course in order to avoid a group of fishermen, then ended up going aground. 

She is fully loaded with materials used for the production of cement, and if the attempt to tow her back off the shoal is not successful, the backup plan is to lighter about 300 tonnes of her cargo.

Monad Shoal is a locally protected shark and ray sanctuary. Local environmental groups have called for the arrest of the vessel pending payment for damages to a 500 meter by 60 meter section of reef. 

In 2014, Australian port state control authorities cited the Rose for five deficiencies, including issues related to her shipboard operations plan, voyage or passage plan, monitoring of voyage or passage plan and rest period records. More recent inspections found no significant issues.

The Belle Rose’s operator could not be immediately reached for comment.