Ocean Logistics Limited (OLL) has been subcontracted by a US salvage company, the Resolve Maritime Group, for salvage operation following the oil spill disaster when MV Solomon Trader was blown on to a reef off the Rennell Island bay, Solomon Islands.
OLL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andrew Bohn confirmed the the company’s Barge Bowen and Tugboat Warringa departed Port Vila on Monday and arrived at the Solomon Islands, well prepared to carry out the salvage operation.
According to CEO Bohn, the vessel ran aground on Rennell Island during Cyclone Oma in February.
The urgency in salvaging of the oil spill is to avoid more leaking oil from spreading to the UNESCO World Heritage site of East Rennel, boasted to be the largest coral atoll in the World. According to Radio New Zealand, about 100 tonnes of oil has already spilled into the world heritage marine area
“Tonnes of oil is leaking linking into the ocean. Our engagement in the operation is to pump out around 600 tonnes of oil that is still contained in the ship into the 5000 DWT Barge Bowen. The removal of the ship is not included in our contract,” Bohn explained.
He continued, “So what will happen, is after all the oil is pumped out from the vessel into our barge, we will return to Vanuatu and transfer all the oil from the barge to water bladders and ship the oil to Australia at a proper oil refinery where it can be recycled properly.”
At this stage the duration of the operation is unknown, but the CEO said they will be onsite to undertake the operation for as long as they needed them.
“Hopefully, we will have good weather so we can safely take the oil out from the vessel, it will also be safe for the barge and safe for the crew.”
OLL has the approval of the Office of the Maritime Regulator (OMR).
“We were informed of the incident and the request to undertake the operation last weekend,” the OLL CEO said. “So we advised OMR of the contract.
“OMR conducted a full inspection on the barge and the tugboat to confirm everything was seaworthy and up to standards to go to another country, to make the voyage and also to be part of the operation.”
The OLL CEO complimented OMR for their professionalism. He also acknowledged relevant authorities including Customs and Immigration for the team effort last weekend in ensuring the barge and tugboat leave the earliest for the salvage operation.
OMR Senior Legal Officer, Lloyd Fikiasi confirmed OMR has given the green light for Barge Bowen and Tugboat Warringa to leave Vanuatu waters for Solomon Islands.
“The barge is a registered domestic vessel. Therefore, it is obliged to provide service domestically only. However, when our office received the request from OLL to undertake the operations in the Solomon Islands, we conducted inspections on board to ensure it complied with Maritime standards and placed exemption on the barge to enable it to travel in international waters.”