On January 21, 2012 I travelled to Kilometer 391 on the Parana River, near Rosario, Argentina on behalf of SMIT Salvage Americas Inc. to assist in the re-floating of the grounded bulk carrier, the M.V. "Aristeas P," pictured below:
The vessel, a 38,623 DWT bulk carrier, had run aground in low river conditions and was positioned such that the channel connecting Rosario and ports to the north with Buenos Aires to the south was closed by the Argentine Coastguard.
I joined the salvage team comprising SMIT Rotterdam salvage master Captain Jeroen Mooij, local SMIT salvage masters Miguel Villella and John Ryan and four members of Defiant Marine who were contracted by SMIT specifically for this matter.
Assessment of the vessel condition indicated that although not heavily aground, the bulker was pinned broadside against a shallow bank by the river current. Through a combination of cargo lightering and tug assistance, the vessel was refloated successfully on January 28, 2012 and subsequently redelivered with the removed cargo reloaded further down river.
Meanwhile, I and three other members of the salvage team proceeded to the vessel M.V. "Nord Barcelona" (pictured below) which had run aground at Kilometer 395 on the Parana River on January 26, 2012 within eye sight of the salvage team aboard the M.V. "Aristeas P".
Initial assessment of the 36,746 DWT bulker indicated the vessel was lightly aground and a refloat effort was attempted using two local tugs and the vessel's main engine. The attempt was a success, with the vessel inching off the shoal and into the deeper main channel before being successfully handed back to the vessel Owners at a safe deep anchorage further down river.
It is always a pleasure to work with SMIT and these cases were no exception. The same compliment is extended to the team from Defiant Marine following this, my first experience of working together with the level of professionalism and knowledge demonstrated by both SMIT and Defiant Marine during the refloating operations being exceptional.
On a final note, a reading recommendation courtesy of Mr. Tim Ferris of Defiant Marine; "The Man Who Bought a Navy" - the account of self made engineer Ernest Cox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Cox ) and his salvage of 35 scuttled German naval vessels from the waters of Scapa Flow, Scotland between 1924 and 1931.
In addition to being a fascinating read, the book serves as inspiration for anybody involved in marine salvage or otherwise.
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