On January 29, 2011 an ASA member company successfully refloated the research vessel Cabo de Hornos safely and redelivered her back to her owners in Talcahuano, Chile. The vessel was being built in a shipyard located in Talcahuano Naval Base when, on February 27th 2010, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded hit the central region of Chile. The movement of the earthquake caused an accidental premature launch and the vessel slid into the sea.
The Cabo de Hornos was planned to be launched on February 27th in a formal ceremony in presence of the Chilean President. After the premature launch and several minutes drifting, the vessel was picked up by the Tsunami and washed back on to land on the opposite side of the shipyard.
On November 12, 2010, the salvage contract to refloat the Cabo de Hornos was awarded to the ASA member company, based upon the unconventional salvage solution. The proposition was to drive the vessel on to a flattop deck barge with the Self Propelled Modular Trailers (SPMTs) from other operating companies in the member’s group. The barge would be completely submerged in dry-dock and the vessel would be floated off.
The in-house engineering department prepared the calculations for the transport and lifting method and designed the supports for the vessel. The total weight of the transport, including supports, would be 2,000 tons. A slope had to be built to drive the vessel to the graven dry-dock of the shipyard. Because the vessel was beached on soft sand, the whole area had to be excavated and one meter of soil was removed and hardened. After signing the contract, a team was sent out to commence the construction of the supports as well as the civil works for the road.
In total, 31 containers with heavy transport equipment were mobilized as well as a 300-foot barge. On January 26th, the Cabo de Hornos was lifted with the SPMTs, after which she was carefully transported to the dry dock wall. On January 27th, the Cabo de Hornos was driven safely onto the barge moored in the dry-dock. On January 29th, the Cabo de Hornos was floated off the barge and safely redelivered to the owners without additional damage.