"Slow and Controlled" salvage lift in Devonport

“Slow and controlled” is how salvor Drew Shannon described the salvage operation to be undertaken over the coming weeks to remove the York Cove and Campbell Cove tugs from the Mersey River in Devonport.


01 April 2022

Mr Shannon is the managing director of United Salvage, the Australian-based company appointed by TasPorts to recover the wrecks.

Mr Shannon said specialist salvage divers and his team of salvors would prepare the tugs for lifting by placing chain slings beneath both tugs and purging water from the York Cove.

“One of the complexities to take account of is that we are lifting a vessel that is underwater, and that is reducing weight as we are lifting it,” he said.

“They are heavily damaged tugs. Their condition is obviously not how they were designed to operate.

“We have to be very careful because of the known damage and get our engineering and lift plans correct.”

Mr Shannon said specialist salvage barges were expected to arrive in Devonport from Brisbane and Newcastle respectively to commence the salvage operation in mid-April, subject to weather conditions.

“Our divers and salvors will be pre-preparing both tugs for lifting prior to the barges arriving,” he said.

“The 55-metre-long receiving barge, the Intan, will be travelling to Devonport from Newcastle, while the 60-metre-long crane barge St Vincent, with a lifting capacity of up to 700 tonnes, will arrive from Brisbane.

“The crane barge will pick up one tug at a time, lift them clear of the water and lower them into a specially constructed cradle on the receiving barge.

“The tugs will be sea fastened and transported to Bell Bay for disposal.

“The York Cove will be lifted first, followed by the Campbell Cove.”

TasPorts chief operating officer Stephen Casey said he was pleased that after significant preparatory works, the salvage operation proper was set to commence.

“TasPorts has been working as expeditiously as possible to remove the York Cove and Campbell Cove wrecks and return all commercial berths at the Port of Devonport to full operations,” he said.

“At the same time our overall careful approach to managing the salvage project has been critical to ensure we have maintained the expected high standards of environmental and maritime safety.

“We have also been undertaking ongoing risk assessment work to approve shipping movements in and out of the Port of Devonport before the salvage work commences.”

Mr Casey said TasPorts had been actively monitoring the wreck site and any movement of the wrecks that would potentially impact the swing basin and the daily Spirit of Tasmania and SeaRoad visits, and visits by other port users.

Background to the incident

On Friday 28 January 2022, cement carrier Goliath collided with two berthed TasPorts tugs at the Port of Devonport (York Cove and Campbell Cove).

The impact of the collision caused significant damage to the tugs, ultimately causing both vessels to sink.

TasPorts responded quickly, deploying oil spill response equipment, and activating its crisis response teams.

TasPorts has continued to actively monitor the incident site 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the collision, with a focus on ensuring the integrity of the oil spill containment area and the salvage of hydrocarbons from the wrecks. These activities continue to be supported by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

TasPorts is continuing to assess the status of the incident site, to determine any changes to restrictions as early as practicable.