New Plan to Move APL Panama

Monday, February 27, 2006
Now salvage crews for the containership APL Panama are preparing a new tactic: creating a channel alongside the stranded ship with a specialized dredger vessel, the Francesco di Giorgio. The channel would be as close as possible to the container ship in order to tow it via the canal to deeper waters, the San Diego Union Tribune reported. With the Francesco di Giorgio's arrival expected on February 27, salvage crews are hoping to write the final chapter of the long-running saga that began when the APL Panama ran aground in shallow waters 1½ miles from Ensenada's port. Repeated attempts to move the ship off the beach with tugboats and a barge equipped with powerful hydraulic pullers have failed. The bow has been moved 50 degrees toward open water, but not far enough to float the ship. The ship's position, parallel to shore, has made for an especially challenging scenario and the vessel is now hemmed in by sand piled as high as 16 feet on its starboard side. An attempt last month to blow away the sand with a giant underwater pipe failed when the pipe broke in the surf. Earlier this month, salvage teams tried a different tack, drilling 200 small holes near the bow into the hull's starboard side, and blowing high-pressure air through them to disperse the sand. The latest sand-removal plans involve the dredger vessel, which is 313 feet long and is designed to operate in shallow water.

Named for the 15th century Italian artist Francesco di Giorgio, it has been sailing from the Nicaraguan port of Corinth, where it was doing maintenance work on a navigational channel. As they work to remove the sand, salvage crews also have been lightening the APL Panama's load.

(Source: San Diego Union Tribune)

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