A challenging salvage response took place in March following a call for assistance by the 180,000 DWT bulk carrier ‘Ocean Corona’. This vessel, laden with iron ore, got into difficulties some 700 NM south-west of the Sunda Strait, Indonesia.

SMIT Salvage, together with Nippon Salvage, mobilised under a Lloyd’s Open Form contract. This casualty had developed a forward trim problem. The salvors dispatched a 211 tonnes bollard pull tug from Singapore, the ‘Posh Constant’, together with a salvage team led by a Senior Salvage Master. The salvage spread includes pumps, diving gear and patching cutting equipment. Work also began on arrangements for a part transfer of cargo, if required. ‘Ocean Corona’ is a large, 2009-built bulk carrier. This Japanese-owned vessel was on a voyage from South Africa to China. Water ingress induced the trim problem – the Master reported that his ship was around 3 metres down at the bow.

It is essential to respond quickly in such situations. If water enters the holds, bulkheads are not constructed to withstand sustained, large hydrodynamic forces. It would have been a race to rescue the crew, had there been water ingress into cargo holds. Fortunately, ‘Ocean Corona’s cargo holds remained dry.

The Lloyd’s Open Form was awarded on March 19. Tug and casualty arrived in Subic Bay during the night of April 14-15. At the time of writing, preparations were under way to carry out temporary repairs. The aim is to improve this vessel’s condition, to the point where approval can be obtained to continue the voyage to the Chinese port of Beilun, for full discharge followed by a drydocking. Another option is to perform a part-discharge, to reduce hull stresses.

A detailed salvage inspection of the ‘Ocean Corona’ revealed damage to five water ballast tanks. This vessel may have touched bottom on a shallow bank or uncharted object. The equipment on board the tug includes power packs, welding and cutting gear, together with patching material. The team can fabricate steel/rubber patches on-scene. This is necessary as the damage is too extensive for a solution based on pressurisation alone.

As this major salvage operation unfolded, the crew of ‘Ocean Corona’ remained on board. They are assisting in work to return this vessel to a safe condition, so allowing her voyage to be completed.

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