Aerial View Of Mersey River And Devonport City, Tasmania

The first barge has arrived at the Port of Devonport in preparation for the removal of two tugs which sank in a collision and have been spilling oil.

The 55m-long receiving barge, the Intan, arrived at the Port of Devonport to remove the wrecks of the York Cove and Campbell Cove tugs from the Mersey River.

On 28 January 2022, cement carrier Goliath collided with two berthed TasPorts tugs at the Port of Devonport — York Cove and Campbell Cove.

The impact of the collision caused significant damage to the tugs, ultimately causing both vessels to sink.

TasPorts responded quickly, deploying oil spill response equipment, and activating its crisis response teams.

TasPorts has continued to actively monitor the incident site 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the collision, with a focus on ensuring the integrity of the oil spill containment area and the salvage of hydrocarbons from the wrecks.

These activities continue to be supported by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The lifts of the wrecked tugs will commence as soon as the 60m-long lifting barge, the St Vincent, arrives in Devonport from Brisbane.

The St Vincent’s departure has been impacted by bad weather. The barge’s owners are waiting for a window in the weather system to start the voyage, expected to be late next week.

Keeping the barge safe is of critical importance. Given its size, it has limited flexibility with respect to environmental parameters when transiting in open waters.

The crane barge will pick up one tug at a time, lift them clear of the water and lower them into a specially constructed cradle on the receiving barge.

The tugs will be sea fastened and transported to Bell Bay for disposal.

TasPorts Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Casey, said specialist salvage divers and salvors from United Salvage, the Australian-based company appointed to recover the wrecks, had been working to prepare the tugs for lifting over many weeks.

“These significant preparatory works means that the salvage operation proper can commence as soon as possible after both barges arrive at Devonport,” Mr Casey said.

Mr Casey said TasPorts had been focused on removing the York Cove and Campbell Cove wrecks and returning all commercial berths at the Port of Devonport to full operations, while at the same time carefully managing environmental and maritime safety matters.

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