Crowley Maritime Corp.'s Titan Salvage has successfully refloated the bow, the largest and most challenging section of the wrecked bulk carrier Smart, and then scuttled it in designated waters.
The vessel was carrying a load of coal when it went aground in August 2013 in heavy seas in Richards Bay, South Africa. Complications followed when the carrier broke apart after only two days.
Titan's experts, including Salvage Master Guy Wood, were called to the scene at the end of last year to refloat and scuttle the bow, which was partially buried in mud. Soon after arriving on scene, the Titan team deployed its proprietary jack-up barges Karlissa A and Karlissa B – which have a combined total of 1,880 meters of clear deck space and the ability to jack in depths of up to 50 meters – creating a stable, safe working environment. Titan made preparations to remove pollutants, then lightered remaining cargo via hopper barge. To further reduce the weight of the wreck, Guy Wood and his team made arrangements to have sand and mud removed from the bow using air-lift techniques.
The Titan team refloated, towed and scuttled the bow into designated waters, as approved by the South African Maritime Safety Authority, in only three days
"It was a difficult job because there were so many unknowns," said Titan's Gordon Amos, director of operations. "From the very beginning, we had to accurately assess the weight of the bow to determine the lightering process and appropriate pulling forces. This was complicated by the fact that we didn't know how much mud and cargo filled the forward compartments. Additionally, we were battling five-meter swells and challenging weather conditions. In the end, Titan made all the right decisions. It was a job well done."
Titan is now preparing for the removal of the Smart's remaining mid-section. This final stage of work is expected to be completed in the beginning of next year.