Ardent-Subtech Clipper Race Yacht Salvage
On Tuesday the 31st of October at approximately 22h34 a report from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) was sent to the Kommetjie National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) following a distress signal from a yacht that had run aground. The vessel in question was one of Clipper Round the World Race yachts, namely Clipper Race yacht CV24 crewed by team Greenings.
The Clipper Race yacht, which had already circumnavigated the world twice before, ran aground at Olifantsbospunt on the western side of the Cape Peninsula during leg three of the eight-leg global sailing race. All 18 members of the crew, who were not in imminent danger, were safely evacuated by the NSRI. Pollution control then became the next priority and immediate action was taken to ensure that all fuel and pollutants were removed so that no further environmental damage occurred. Sir Robin Knox-John explained: “Once the assessment had been made that the vessel was not repairable, our aim was very clear, we needed to deal with the situation quickly with the priority of minimising environmental impact and returning the beach to its original state. That was vitally important.” The rapid response removal contract was awarded to Ardent-Subtech and a team was quickly mobilised to the site on the 2nd of October.
The rapid response team arrived at Cape Point Nature Reserve at 09h00, however, the only access to the vessel was through a protected wildlife sanctuary and so entry permits had to be obtained from SAN Parks. This added another challenge as no vehicles were allowed onto the beach and thus all the pumps, hoses and the blister tank had to be hand carried to the site. The removal of the oil and the pumping of the fuel from the starboard side outer and lower tank commenced at 11h00. At 19h30 all the fuel from the starboard side had been removed and the team deployed the vessels heavy anchor to seaward before leaving the site.
On the 3rd of October, the team began removing the oil and fuel from the day and portside outer tank. Once these tanks were empty the team moved to pumping out the internal water, simultaneously skimming the diesel, to expose the portside lower fuel tank. The following day started off with digging out the portside to expose the keel and shell plating to allow for an inspection. Several cracks were noted in the keel along with a deep web and cracking of the shell plating in the gallery areas. The extent of the damage meant that any hope of refloating the vessel was no longer possible and a full salvage would need to take place.
In the interim, the Ardent-Subtech rapid response team continued removing all debris from the vessel and the surrounding beach. All of the perishables, vessel gear (including the sails) and debris was hand carried off the beach, loaded onto trucks and delivered to the Ardent-Subtech warehouse for the Clipper Team. On the 8th of November, the team completed with all removals and a site inspection confirmed that all pollutants and debris had been successfully removed from the area.
Thanks to the Clipper Race Yacht Team, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), National Sea Rescue Institue (NSRI), SAN Parks and the Ardent-Subtech team.
A version of this article was featured in the quarterly newsletter of the International Salvage Union (ISU).
Link to newsletter: ISU Q4 Newsletter