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Salvage of Marco Polo Accelerated Ahead of Approaching Bad Weather

grounded ferry Marco Polo
Ferry Marco Polo has been aground for a week off the coast of Sweden (Swedish Coastguard photos)

Published Oct 31, 2023 5:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Salvage efforts for the grounded ferry Marco Polo off the coast of Sweden are being accelerated due to a forecast for worsening weather in the region. Pending final approval from the Swedish authorities, the reports are that the team from SMIT will attempt to refloat the ferry Wednesday morning before storms overtake the area along the southern coast of Sweden and the Baltic.

“The Coast Guard advocates that the salvage begins in daylight tomorrow because there is a risk of further oil spills and other incidents during the salvage,” the Swedish Coastguard announced at the end of the day on Tuesday, October 31. They reported earlier that the oil leaks from the ship have been stopped for the moment but they believe there remains an undetermined amount of oil in the water that is continuing to spread along the coast.

Reports late on Monday said oil smells had reached the coastline of Sweden some eight nautical miles from the site of the grounding. The vessel remains aground near the small island of Han?, but late on Monday local newspapers reported oil was washing up near the town of Sternö, across Pukavik Bay from where the vessel is stuck. The municipality confirmed the reports saying that barriers had been placed along the beach to catch the oil and help with the cleanup.

The Swedish Coastguard is reporting that it retrieved approximately 20 cubic meters of oil during the day on Monday. The vessel had an initial oil leak after the grounding a week ago and then began to leak additional oil after shifting during a high swell on Sunday. According to the reports, a total of approximately 50 cubic meters of oil has been absorbed. The Coastguard is leading recovery efforts in the water while teams including the Home Guard are working along the shore. 

 

Teams worked into the night recovering 20 cubic meters of oil Monday from the latest leak from the ferry (Swedish Coastguard)

 

When the vessel went aground on October 22, TT-Line which operates the ferry reported that there were approximately 160 cubic meters of oil in the tank which was damaged. A second tank, so far undamaged, holds an additional 300 cubic meters of fuel.

On Tuesday the Coastguard said that bad weather and low clouds were making that recovery work difficult. The plan had been to overfly the area looking for drifting oil while boats continued to work to recover oil from the bay.

The salvage plan calls for refloating the Marco Polo and towing the vessel to a predetermined anchorage location approximately one nautical mile to the southeast of the current grounded position. There they plan to position the bunker tanker Fram alongside and remove the oil from the vessel’s tanks. Crews had previously attempted to begin pumping fuel off the vessel after putting a tanker alongside on Saturday but were forced to stop the operation due to the high swell on Sunday.

The Coastguard reports the Marco Polo will be moved to Stillerydshamnen in Karlshamn, which is prepared to receive the ferry.