Crane barges to help salvage remaining cargo

Two specialist crane barges are sailing from the Netherlands to help salvage the cargo of beached container ship MSC Napoli. They will start lifting the remaining 2,394 containers off the ship, grounded off Sidmouth, east Devon, this Saturday 27 January. A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it could take five months to remove the ship’s remaining containers.

At present, a team of 20 is working round the clock to pump oil from the ship. So far, one third of the fuel has been pumped from the Napoli into another tanker. The 200 tonnes which had leaked into the sea has now been treated. However, two of the ship’s fuel tanks remain under water and it could take another week for all the fuel to be pumped to a second vessel, say officials.

The 62,000-tonne MSC Napoli, which was holed in storms on 18 January, was deliberately run aground following ‘serious structural failure’. Hundreds of scavengers descended on the beach at Branscombe after 50 of the ship’s containers washed ashore.

Senior coastguard Derek Smith said the Receiver of Wreck was now requiring salvage to be surrendered on the spot. He said: ‘We do not want people to break containers open – they will make a mess and they will not be allowed to take anything away from the beach. If they fail to comply with the instructions of the receiver they could be arrested by the police.’

The ship’s managers said 103 of its containers were lost from the vessel during the storms, although 70 had now been accounted for. The remaining 33 were being hunted with specialist sonar equipment.

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