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Smit Salvage Team Refloats French Passenger Ferry

A Smit Tak salvage team completed an operation to refloat the French passenger ferry Monte Stello, which went aground on the Sardinian coast earlier this year. The 4,711-grt vessel was towed to Livorno for provisional repairs.

The grounding happened amid 60-mph winds and heavy seas. Helicopters rescued all 51 passengers and 25 crew.

Working under a lump sum "Wreckon" wreck removal contract, the team developed a refloating plan and began work on the salvage under a joint arrangement with Livorno company Neri. The salvage team made steady progress in pumping out the vessel's engine room and other flooded spaces — despite bad weather. By the third week of April, sealing and patching were well advanced, preventing further leakage and preparing the vessel for a tow to safety. By April 27, more than 80 steel patches had been completed and the Monte Stello was ready for refloating.

On May 2 the Monte Stello was finally lifted free of the rocky bottom and towed to a safe position. On May 4 the Ro/Ro ferry was towed to Palau and then on to Livorno, where she arrived on May 11. The vessel was declared a constructive total loss.

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