A salvage team is in place to remove the wreck of Solomon Trader, which has now been declared a total loss, according to the charterer of the bulk carrier.
Two barges are now alongside the stricken bulker, which ran aground 17 days ago on a reef near the world’s largest raised coral atoll.
The ship ran aground while loading bauxite near the East Rennell world heritage site. Salvage operations were hampered initially by a cyclone, although the weather has improved in recent days with locals reporting a bunker slick, something that has been denied by the vessel’s owner, King Trader from Hong Kong.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has sent a Hercules C130 military plane with clean-up gear, and a naval ship with equipment is also being diverted to help.
In an update from the vessel’s charterer, Bintan Mining, seen by Splash, it has emerged the ship, battered by the cyclone on a reef for more than a fortnight, has now been declared by its hull and machinery insurers as a “constructive total loss” and the ship’s P&I club has now engaged a salvage company to remove the wreck.
Local resident Derek Pongi told Splash today that there were clear signs of oil washing ashore on Rennell Island.
Thomas Cheung, the risk manager at Hong Kong’s King Trader, cited bad weather for the accident when interviewed by Radio New Zealand today.