Following weeks of preparation and more than seven days of intensive, round-the-clock operations, RESOLVE Salvage & Fire, (ASIA) Pte Ltd. announced that more than 1000 MT of volatile LPG 1- Butene have been removed from the stranded and wrecked freighter LPG OBERON in the Taiwan Strait.
The Thailand-flagged freighter ran hard aground in strong winds early this year, seven miles from the Penghu archipelago 30 miles northwest of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The 2695-ton vessel sustained extensive hull damage and has since posed a threat of explosion and severe environmental damage to the ecosystem and reefs as well as local populations and fishing villages on the islands surrounding the wreck site. The casualty had been leaking LPG since the grounding, further increasing the risk of explosion. RESOLVE was one of the only international salvage companies to propose a technically feasible and safe salvage plan. The company’s plan to remove the gas and then dismantle the freighter and remove the wreckage from the stranding site was approved by the Taiwanese government in April. Due to the severe hull damage, refloating and towing the vessel was determined to be impossible.
RESOLVE completed the lightering of LPG to the daughter vessel LPG Ladyship and proceeded to use an inert gas to displace and purge all LPG inside the tanks making the vessel safe to commence the cutting operations. Project Manager Captain Ajay Prasad said, “The cargo removal operation was extremely intensive with the team having to expend almost all back-up plans and contingencies, going into unconventional gassing up, pressure differential discharge, cascade "inerting", gas-freeing, and piloting the receiving LPG tanker into the 4-point mooring to successfully complete the discharge operation. The extreme weather of the Taiwan Strait further multiplied the challenges of the job.” The Maritime and Port Bureau, MOTC R.O.C. Kaohsiung, Penghu County Coastguard, EPA, local village councils and government officials have anticipated the removal of the volatile gas cargo from the tanker since its grounding almost six months ago. Maritime & Port Bureau Deputy Director Mr. Yeh, Ming-Shui said, “We are very pleased with the safe and successful completion of the cargo removal operation-- which was very hazardous-- 2 days ahead of schedule. We would like to thank Capt. Ajay Prasad and the whole RESOLVE team for this excellent operation. We achieved this result after a series of 12 meetings with all concerned parties”. Penghu County Government Magistrate Mr.Wang, Chien-Fa said, “We are very happy that the cargo removal operation has been completed and the vessel and surrounding area are now safe, just in time for the start of the fishing season on 1 June. Resolve Salvage has done a very efficient and successful operation”. The wreck removal phase is now underway with completion anticipated within 6 to 8 weeks.