Photos: First Section of Flinterstar Raised

Image courtesy DEME Group

By MarEx 2016-06-29 12:19:01

The salvage of the wrecked general cargo ship Flinterstar took a long-awaited step forward Tuesday when salvors with Scaldis Salvage & Marine Contractors recovered her bow section using a floating crane. 

Weeks of preparatory work – including a challenging effort to remove her cargo of steel beams and plate – preceded the raising. No cutting was required to separate the hull, as it had already broken in two. 

“During operations an oil containment vessel was active to capture the small amount of gas oil that was released. After the removal of the water, the bow has been placed on a bespoke pontoon ready for transport. Following seafastening of the bow section the pontoon will be towed to Ghent to be recycled,” said Marc Voorhuis, Scaldis’ director. 

Image courtesy Stefaan Kerger / twitter

The heavier stern section remains in place, and salvors will return later to complete the job. de Backer told local media that even though operations will not be continuous, "we suspect that the recovery will be completed earlier than originally planned." Voorhuis said that he expects the salvage effort to be finished in August. 

Images courtesy DEME Group

The Flinterstar partially sank the morning of October 6 after colliding with the LNG tanker Al-Oraiq off Belgium. Her crew were safely rescued. The wreck's position – on a sandbank close to the approaches to Antwerp and Vlissingen – is near "one of the busiest shipping routes in Europe, like the shoulder of a highway," said De Backer. Wreck removal was delayed due to foul winter weather, but got under way at last in late May.

"For our economy, [the salvage] is good news. The wreck has meant we've put a speed limit nearby and even a no-go zone for pleasure and fishing boats. That will soon no longer be necessary," de Backer said.