Netherlands-based towage and salvage specialist Multraship reported on Dec. 8 that it had successfully refloated the Stema Barge II after the 443 ft long vessel grounded in shallow water inbound to the Dutch port of Eemshaven with a cargo of rocks following the loss of its tow to the tug Hellas on November 16.
After initial attempts by local tugs to refloat the barge had proved to be unsuccessful, Multraship was contracted on November 25 under a Lloyd’s Open Form 2000 agreement incorporating SCOPIC. Multraship immediately mobilized the equipment and personnel needed to discharge part of the barge’s cargo of 24,000 tonnes of rocks.
The aft section of the barge had sunk deep into a sandbank, and some 12,000 tonnes of cargo was discharged by excavator onto the Multrabarge II, Wagenborg Barge I and Charlie Rock, which vessels were then towed into the port of Eemshaven and the rocks discharged onto the quayside. Throughout the unloading operation, the Stema Barge II was kept steady aground by means of controlled pressurisation and ballasting of its tanks and void spaces.
Leendert Muller, managing director of Multraship, says, “What might under other circumstances have been a comparatively straightforward salvage operation was complicated in this case by the fact that the extremely shallow water in which the barge had grounded meant that it was difficult to find suitable tugs and salvage craft to bring and keep alongside the grounded barge. There was also a severe groundswell, which delayed operations on a number of occasions. We mobilized a great deal of equipment and had a salvage team working around the clock. About sixty people, including a salvage master and supervisors, naval architects, divers and riggers were employed in the rescue operation, working aboard six salvage craft/tugs, three fast launches, and three barges. ”
The barge was refloated on December 7 and towed into Eemshaven, where cargo discharge continued and inspections got under way.
Multraship is a Dutch towage and salvage company. It operates and manages a fleet of thirty-one tugs, salvage vessels, floating sheerlegs and other craft equipped with towage, salvage and fire-fighting equipment. It expects to take expects to take delivery of three newbuildings from 2009 onwards.