September 19, 2008

Napoli Salvage Suspended Until Spring

Salvage work on the beached cargo vessel MSC Napoli out of Brixham has been suspended until spring in the face of 'treacherous' winter storms brewing.

It is for the safety of workmen and to prevent any environmental damage to Lyme Bay's wildlife and coastline.

Disposal work on the broken-up vessel, lying off Branscombe Beach, has been lucrative for the ship's agents in Brixham, from where offshore work crews have also been regularly ferried to the site off East Devon.

A government spokesman said yesterday: "With the onset of autumnal storms, the Secretary of State's representative, Hugh Shaw, has decided to suspend salvage operations for the remaining stern section until spring 2009.

"The decision has been agreed by the insurers and the Environment Group."

Mr Shaw confirmed: "This was necessary to reduce the risks that the onset of harsher autumnal weather would have presented to the safety of the salvors involved, and the local environment.

"The conditions are now becoming increasingly treacherous.

"During the initial incident no lives were lost, and my aim is to lessen the risks to anyone involved in the operation during this final phase.

"To date, 2,800 tonnes of the aft section have been successfully removed, however the remaining section is heavily constructed and proving difficult to dismantle.

"The engine itself weighs approximately 1,400 tonnes and remains partially in situ.

"The vessel's location and exposure to the elements has not helped salvage activities. There is also an estimated 3,000 tonnes of silt and clay trapped inside the ship and adding substantial weight to the overall structure.

"I will also be looking at all options during the winter.

"My goal continues to be the removal of as much of the remaining aft section, as possible, balanced against the environmental sensitivities of the Lyme Bay area. "

A temporary exclusion zone of 500 metres remains in place for passing vessels.

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