The departure from Devonport of the AAL Melbourne yesterday (16 August) with the salvaged York Cove and Campbell Cove wrecks on board marks the end of a highly successful exercise for TasPorts, its insurers (Shipowners) and the savage company (United Salvage).
TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald estimated that more than 100 people had been working on the project over the past seven months.
“The salvage work proper was slow and deliberate, and ultimately successful, and reflects the detailed and collaborative planning that was required to complete the work,” he said.
“The company is very pleased to be able to look back on what was a highly successful but complicated salvage exercise.
“The insurers and the salvors, that have international experience in this work, say it was one of the most complex salvage activities they have ever undertaken.
“The wrecks were located in the middle of a city port that remained open. In addition, in the Mersey River we not only had the challenge of what the tide was doing but we also have natural eddies in the area.”
Mr Donald said potential marine pollution was also a significant and important consideration.
“There are a range of natural and social values within the Port of Devonport and its surrounds that could have been impacted by marine pollution if not managed carefully,” he said.
“TasPorts actively managed the ongoing risk of marine pollution in the Mersey River after the allision.
“TasPorts worked collaboratively with EPA Tasmania, which had representatives on site during the salvage operation to provide advice on environmental management issues.”
In addition to recognising the entire team that completed the lifts, Mr Donald thanked the Devonport community for its support and interest in the salvage work.
“The location of the tugs close to the city centre and the various vantage points that were available for people to watch the lifts meant the work attracted significant interest,” he said.
“I am confident that those who attended could appreciate for themselves just what was involved and how complex the salvage works were.”
Mr Donald said the final damage bill was unknown at this stage.
“We will leave that to our insurers to finalise these matters,” he said.
“But as previously noted TasPorts commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against CSL Australia Pty Ltd (CSL), the owners of the cement carrier Goliath which allided with the tugs, to guard against the possibility of proceedings being commenced in a less suitable jurisdiction.
“It is not TasPorts’ intention to progress the proceedings unless and until it becomes necessary to do so, but we believe that the commencement of proceedings is a prudent step to take to protect our rights.”
Both tug wrecks have been welded to their specially constructed cradles on the deck of the AAL Melbourne for the voyage to Brisbane where they will be scrapped.