On July 4 Tsavliris Salvage dispatched its salvage tug Megas Alexandros from her Piraeus salvage station, to the assistance of bulk carrier Katherine (17,255 GT, 28,711 DWT), laden with 26,400 MT of hot briquetted iron, following collision with bulk carrier Baru Satu (9,978 GT, 16,190 DWT), in the Kafirea Strait, Aegean Sea.
As a result of the accident, the M/V Katherine was rammed by the bulbous bow of the M/V Baru Satu penetrating her cargo hold no.5, (which flooded) locking the two vessels together. The M/V Baru Satu sustained severe bow damage, including, flooding of fore peak tank and cargo hold no.1.
Tsavliris also dispatched salvage tug Alexander 5, antipollution vessel Aegis I and tug Agios Nektarios immediately to the casualty's position.
Priority was given to stabilizing both vessels. As an antipollution contingency measure, oil booms were deployed around the casualty and all necessary antipollution equipment (oil spill dispersant chemicals, additional oil booms) were on hand. Fortunately no fuel tanks were breached.
On July 5 a full vessels inspections and diving surveys were undertaken to assess the damages and devise salvage plans. Detailed trim, stability and strength calculations were undertaken to verify buoyancy. Drafts around the vessels were taken, also soundings in all ballast tanks and cargo holds, etc.
Adverse weather conditions (strong northerly winds) prevailed throughout and it was decided to tow both vessels, while locked into each other, East of Kea Island for shelter. Both vessels, "as a unit," were towed by salvage tugs Megas Alexandros and Alexander 5 with the other tugs escorting.
On July 6 the salvage team, in cooperation with the salvors of M/V Baru Satu commenced attempts to separate the two casualties but without success.
The separation plan required cutting away deformed plates from the M/V Katherine in order to separate the two vessels. Following completion of the works, the two casualties were separated on July 7.
With salvage tug Megas Alexandros towing, with tug Alexander 5 escorting/assisting and Aegis I escorting, the M/V Katherine was taken to place of refuge Thoriko Bay (Attika), north of port Lavrio, following approval by the Greek Authorities.
Casualty was at anchor in Thoriko Bay, with a buoy anchoring system in place at the aft of the casualty to keep her in position, with both salvage tugs Megas Alexandros and Alexander 5 alongside on standby at all times, whilst Aegis I was on standby in an antipollution role. Two barges (800 and 1,500 metric tons respectively) and one floating crane barge (150 metric tons) in combination with tugs were dispatched to the casualty's position for cargo discharging.
The condition of the casualty was: cargo hold number 5 breached and flooded as a result of the collision. Water had entered cargo holds numbers 2 and 3, through the bilge line system. The cargo, briquetted iron, reacts with sea water, and the reaction produces high temperatures and the explosive gas hyrdrogen, therefore it was imperative to closely monitor the situation. A marine chemist was on board to continuously check the temperatures of the cargo.
The cargo discharging operation commenced on July 9. On the same day, smoke was discovered over cargo hold number 3, with the cargo heating up to 62 degrees C and there was fear this would increase, therefore, salvage team closely supervised the situation. Fuel de-bunkering to the Aegis I also commenced and oil booms were deployed around the stern of the casualty.
On July 10 the casualty and all vessels involved in salvage operation were relocated to another position in the bay, allowing a safer distance from the rocky beach. Cargo discharging continued. 16,000 m2 of land was rented in Lavrio port to store the cargo in separate heaps, depending on condition. A security company was appointed to secure the cargo at the port. The "shuttling" of the discharged cargo from Thoriko Bay to Lavrio port lasted one month.
On July 28 NKK Class granted approval for towage to Syros Island. Cargo operations were completed on the July 31 and the MV Katherine was prepared for towage to Syros, but was denied outward clearance due to adverse weather and Greek regulations.
On August 10 the MV Katherine was granted outward clearance. Salvage tug Megas Alexandros connected towline and commenced towage to Syros, with salvage tug Alexander 3 assisting, to Syros Island roads. On August 11 convoy moored alongside a quay at Neorion Shipyards at Syros and salvage tugs Megas Alexandros and Alexander 3 were demobilized.
Cargo of about 25,625 MT was stored at Lavrio commercial port and cargo of about 800 MT was stored at Neorion shipyard, Syros, under the attendance/custody of salvors. Cargo from hold No.5, due to contamination by sea water, required special attention by a marine chemist at both places. On August 21 a joint survey and sampling of cargo at Lavrio (and Syros respectively) was carried out in order to verify the condition of sound cargo and cargo ex no. 5 hold contaminated by sea water.
On August 15, the vessels was redelivered to owners at Syros, and on September 2 cargo at Lavrio port and at Syros was redelivered. Understand intention cargo be reloaded and on-carried to destination by MV Katherine after repairs to vessel.
The two month salvage operation has been successfully completed.