Wednesday 24th Oct, 2018

Kea Trader leaks oil after cyclone thrashing

Photo: Lomar Shipping
Photo: Lomar Shipping

TAR balls and other materials from the Kea Trader have washed up on the island of Mare after the grounded vessel was battered by two cyclones over the past month.

A statement from Lomar Shipping said the force of the recent cyclones resulted in the escape of some “limited” oil deposits and soiled materials from inaccessible areas of the vessel.

“Fully trained contractors – with access to equipment made available on all the Loyalty Islands, the mainland of New Caledonia and Ile Des Pins – have been alerted and will respond and collect any materials that come ashore,” a Lomar Shipping spokesperson said.

“This shoreline response operation will continue for as long as necessary.”

Aerial surveillance began as soon as conditions allowed on Sunday with the ship owners working alongside the authorities to assess the vessel and locate any debris loosened by the cyclone. A single container was discovered floating near the site; vessels were dispatched to recover it.

“Initial aerial inspections found the wreck had shifted – with the two hull sections (that had fractured into two last November) colliding to cause damage to the forward section,” the spokesperson said.

“Hold 3 disintegrated in the extreme sea conditions that were whipped up by violent winds. This hold had been cleaned although four stored empty containers were lost. Hold 2 was also breached, with an estimated 25 empty containers and some residual debris lost to the elements.”

The cyclones also detached two hatch covers and 17 metres of vertical hull sides from a cargo hold, which were located adjacent to the vessel on the floor of the rock reef.

The spokesperson said precautionary measures were put in place ahead of the impact of Cyclone Gita last month and Cyclone Hola last weekend.

Measures to minimise damage in preparation for the cyclones included removing equipment containing fuel and oil, securing materials and adding ballast to both halves of the vessel.

Additional material has continued to be removed, including soiled insulating foam from the holds, furniture from the accommodation areas and electronic equipment. Partitions and false ceilings have also been dismantled on the bridge and upper levels.

While hostile seas largely abated over the first two months of this year 12 containers were recovered from the cargo holds, leaving 84 of the 782 containers and flat-racks still to be recovered.

The Maltese-flagged Kea Trader (IMO 9701281) ran aground on the Durand Reef off New Caledonia in early July last year on a voyage from Papeete to Noumea.

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