Tug salvage plan and timeline confirmed

TasPorts and salvage company United Salvage have agreed to a timeline to remove tugs from Mersey River in Devonport.


25 March 2022

TasPorts and salvage company United Salvage have agreed to a timeline to remove the York Cove and Campbell Cove wrecks from the Mersey River in Devonport.

Specialist salvage divers will be mobilised to Devonport from interstate by the middle of next week, while the salvage barges are expected to arrive in Devonport from Brisbane and Newcastle respectively to commence the salvage operation in mid-April.

It is expected that the salvage works will be completed and the wrecks transferred to Bell Bay in early May, subject to weather conditions and the complexity of the salvage operation once it gets underway.

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

TasPorts chief operating officer Stephen Casey said all the advice the company had received pointed to the fact that this salvage operation was likely to be one of the most complex undertaken in Australia in recent years.

“Our overall approach to managing the salvage project has been critical to ensure we maintain our high standards of environmental and maritime safety,” he said.

Mr Casey said TasPorts was undertaking ongoing risk assessment work to approve shipping movements in and out of the Port of Devonport before the salvage work commenced.

“TasPorts has implemented a series of restrictions for large commercial vessels operating close to the wreck site and containment area that will remain in place until the wrecks are recovered from the Mersey River,” he said.

Following the successful visit to Devonport by the Gaschem Homer on 23 March, TasPorts has met with a number of customers regarding the delivery of caustic soda and grain into Devonport.

Mr Casey said in line with previous visits to the port, risk assessment work involving the Harbour Master, TasPorts’ pilots and shore side crews would be undertaken for these planned visits before the mobilisation of the specialist salvage barges in mid-April.

As has been previously announced, TasPorts is expected to welcome a 121-metre-long fuel tanker into Devonport during the first week of April.

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.