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Removal of the wreck

Aerial view of the Rokia Delmas grounded
Aerial view of the Rokia Delmas grounded

 

As a result of the grounding of the Rokia Delmas on 24 October 2006, the shipowner was issued a demand letter by the French authorities to ensure that all measures were taken to eliminate the danger that the ship represented for the French coastline.

After the fuel had been pumped out of the vessel (between 27 October and 3 November), the removal of the containers and the cargo of timber could then begin on 10 November. The rate at which the operations could be conducted was dictated by the sea state and in particular the swell. Several openings were made to access the various decks and to remove the cargo trapped within.
 
In February 2007, SMIT Salvage, already in charge of the removal of the cargo, was chosen to remove the hull, in association with SCALDIS and LES ABEILLES INTERNATIONAL. SMIT was already well known for having removed the wreck of the Tricolor in the Channel in 2003.

Alongside the salvage plan was a pollution contingency plan, which consisted of deploying a boom around the whole site and pre-positioning oil recovery equipment (skimmers, sorbents, booms etc.). This equipment was able to be deployed by a response team of 8 people, who could be on site within 45 minutes.

On 9 March, the salvage company began to remove the superstructures of the wreck, before being able to go on to remove the hull.

On 2nd April, a fire started onboard the Rokia Delmas. The fire was caused by the oxycutting process used on deck 4 (directly in contact with the cargo of wood). No pollution or sheen was detected, other than some fleeting traces of soot due to the spirals of smoke. By 6 a.m. the following day, the fire was under control. The time lost for the salvage operations was no more than 48 hours.

 

One of the last pieces of Rokia Delmas
One of the last pieces of Rokia Delmas

 

The cutting up and removal of the superstructures carried on until September, bringing a close to phase I (removal of cargo and superstructures).

After the superstructures had been removed, it became obvious that the hull could not be refloated and removed as a whole due its deformation. Phase II therefore involved cutting the wreck into 5 vertical sections (steering section, engine section, front section and then middle section cut in two).

The following phase (III) involved the evacuation of each part of the hull to the port of La Rochelle using a crane barge, before final disposal at a demolition site. The last section of hull was hoisted out of the port of La Pallice on the evening of 28 November.

An inspection dive took place on 17 December. Some residual debris was reported, which was then removed on 18 December by the worksite operator.

When all the sections of the wreck of the Rokia Delmas had been removed from the sea, the site where the vessel grounded had been returned to its original state and the risks of harm to the environment had been eliminated, the formal notice given to the shipowner was lifted. On 19 December 2007, this final administrative act definitively closed the at sea phase of removal operations, which then continued on land.

Last update: 15/01/2008