Salvage attempt due to start in the afternoon
The first attempt to refloat the 'Blue Star' in the Ares estuary (A Coruña), will take place on Dec 9 around 2:20 p.m. At that time there will be high tide and it was expected that the conditions that facilitate the operation will occur, with waves that could reach a height of seven meters. The salvage attempt will be carried out by both the 'Union Princess' and the 'Boka Pegasus', which are already in the vicinity of the ship. In addition, the 'Boka Pegasus' already has a towing wire attached to the 'Blue Star'. The 'Vehintiocho'will be used as a support vessel in the tasks. The tugs will pull at the port side and the stern. The pressurizing of the ballast tanks will start at noon by injecting compressed air to expel the water that has entered the tanks. The operation also involved the support vessel 'Punta Herminio', a zodiac and two helicopters: one for the transport of personnel and another to move the equipment. The salvage team consisted of a salvage master, a superintendent, a foreman diver, a rescue diver, four engineers, three naval architects, a pumping technician, three equipment operators, a land coordinator and a coast controller. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAQR2zpHioY
Salvage preparations going on
Preparations continued for the salvage of 'Blue Star' from the rocks of Ares (A Coruña) by SMIT Salvage, and the local company Ardentia Marine. On Dec 6, they increased the height of the zip line installed on land to facilitate the movement of personnel and equipment to the tanker. On Dec 7 they have already been able to bring several teams of welders on board to reinforce the ship's towing pointsduring the next few days as they must withstand the pulling force of 200 tons by each of the two tugs. It will consist of a combined drag between the port side and stern to pull the ship in a way that rocks in the area can be avoided. The 'Union Princess' has been moored in the outer port of Ferrol for several days and moved to the grounding site on Dec 7. The other tug, the 'Boka Pegasus', was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon of Dec 7 at the port of A Coruña, where he will pick up a towing wire and set sail for the Ares coast. Meanwhile, the 'Vehintiocho' continued to be attached to the stern of the chemical tanker and will be used as a support in these tasks. Also 'Don Inda' remained in the area.
Salvage operation facing risks
The salvage plan for the 'Blue Star' which was developed by Smit Salvage was not without risks. In the operation the towing capacity of the tugs, a minimum of 350 tons, will be combined with the improvement of the buoyancy and depend on the tides and the swell which could facilitate the operation. However, it was feared that the damage to the hull will increase with the consequence that water would enter and buoyancy would be lost. 14 of the 18 ballast tanks were breached. In addition, the sludge tank was also damaged. 11 of the tanks were damaged on Nov 26, four days after the grounding. Four others suffered cracks as of Nov 28. The rock bed also worries the experts of the Dutch company, and they did not hide that there was risk that the Hull will break before or during the salvage operation. As the engine room remained intact, submersible bilge pumps were installed in it to prevent flooding, as it was crucial that it is fully operational to reduce any water ingress. The cargo tanks that were above the double bottom of the ship have also been sealed, with the aim of not losing buoyancy if the outer hull of the 'Blue Star' gets further damaged. The water in the ballast tanks will be removed by injecting compressed air, an operation that will be carried out when the two tugs, the 'Union Princess' and the 'Boka Pegasus' have been connected to two reinforcement points iat n the stern, both with 200 tons of draft. Once buoyancy was gained by removing excess water, the tugs would start pulling the tanker to try to refloat it. In principle, the operations will be carried out only by day, so the estimated duration of the preparations for the refloating was calculated to be seven days, so the first attempt cannot come before Dec 10. However, they prevent the circumstances from changing and forcing the modification of the plan, which would also be subject to the requirements of the Spanish Maritime Administration. The bad weather may also delay the operation, although just enough is required to create waves to support the towage. Other possible delays may concern the arrival of the necessary material that depends on third companies. Spanish report with photo: https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/galicia/2019/12/06/blue-star-presenta-vias-agua-15-tanques-teme-remolque-provoque-danos/0003_201912G6P11991.htmUpload News