COASTALDESIGNBUILD salvage a sunken steel tug.
COASTAL contracted to install new floating docks
for the South Bank Marina redevelopment in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
In order to do so, COASTAL had to remove and salvage a sunken steel tug, approximately 70’ in length and 100 tons in dry weight, wrecked on the new dock location.
The nearest working area was Lagoon Delta Island, which has no road access, so excavators were delivered by landing craft.
The salvage of a vessel in such deterioration as this tug, is by no means a perfect science, there being so many unknowns and potential problems. So as the plan evolved, from minute to minute, so experience and chance were at equal play, given the wreck’s precarious location.
Initially, the crew attempted to drag the vessel out whole.
The first attempt to rotate the vessel failed as it would not move, only roll.
The vessel levelled out at low tide, then rolled back and slipped into deeper water, with only the bow left above the surface.
Plan A did not work. Any salvage operation can be expensive, especially in labour and equipment, with no guarantees of time or success, so the crew had to get this situation quickly under control.
Plan B required divers placing chains around the tug’s steering gear and prop shaft, so the tug’s stern could be dragged up into shallower water, enabling excavators to tear the stern, engines and transmissions and remove them, piece by piece.
The stern engines, steering gear, transmissions and bulkheads were now torn out, making the vessel light enough to rotate it and begin to drag it up the makeshift ramp which we had cut.
By the end of an extremely long day, the forward three-quarters of the ship were on the ramp. The crew then set to work, cutting it with oxyacetylene torches and cut off saws to reduce its weight.
With the weight of engines and transmissions removed, it was now possible to pull the vessel up the ramp and cut away the steel, piece by piece and continue to drag it up onto the shore.
As steel sections were torn away and water drained out, the plan progressed and improved. Finally, the crew pulled the remaining section on to the shore, with the bow of the tug left intact.
The area was now clear for piling to commence, at some cost in plant and labour, three cracked ribs, a bruised spleen, and one temporarily submerged excavator engine.
Salvage is always a messy, time consuming business, but with such a major problem behind us, we are now seasoned to the job at hand, with more experience and lessons learned.
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*NB: A spud barge – sometimes called a jack-up barge – is a specialised type of barge commonly used for marine construction operations. The barge is moored by steel shafts or through-deck piling, which are essentially pipes driven right into the soil or sand at the bottom of the water to provide stability.