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Treatment of the wreck

Having removed the oils and the containers from the MSC Napoli, the next stage of the salvage operation was to remove the wreck itself. This operation was carried out in three phases. The first involved refloating the wreck. To do so, divers first patched up the damaged areas between late April and late June.
 
A wide variety of items, such as lubricants, gas cylinders, fire extinguishers, paint, smoke alarms, batteries and all equipment liable to cause pollution during the refloating operation were removed.  25 to 30 pumps were required to remove the 53,000 tonnes of water from holds 3, 4, 5 and 7 within six hours.

 
The process of examining the various options for refloating and towing the MSC Napoli and preparing comprehensive EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessments) for all the possibilities was time-consuming.

 
After three months of preparation the vessel was successfully refloated on 9 July. Unfortunately, a dive survey carried out the next day revealed that the ship was in a much worse state than previously thought, with a high risk of the vessel breaking in two if towed. After seeking independent advice, the SOSREP made the decision, with the salvors, to re-beach the MSC Napoli on Branscombe Beach, north of where it was originally sited then to subsequently dismantle it.

Splitting of the wreck using explosives
Splitting of the wreck using explosives

The second phase involved splitting the ship in two in front of the bridge. After three successive attempts involving explosives, cutting charges and traction by tugs, the structure split in two on 20 July. It took another fortnight to prepare the bow, before it could be towed on 9 August to Belfast, where it arrived on 14th.
 The stern was cut up onsite over a period of 5 months. The final debris on the floor of Lyme Bay was then removed.

 
The MSC Napoli operation was finally completed on 29 July 2009, 924 days after the accident occurred. 45,660 tonnes of goods were recovered from the ship and transferred to land. The record-breaking expense generated by this affair, £150 million, was covered by the ship’s insurer.

Last update: 28/04/2010