Complex salvage operation underway in southern Chile

A delicate salvage operation is underway in the pristine waters of southern Chile where a 1983-built roro ran aground five days ago after the ship’s master committed suicide.

The Coyhaique, owned by local line Navimag Carga, is listing to port and while all crew and passengers were evacuated after the ship ran aground near Huichas island on a voyage from Puerto Chacabuco to Puerto Montt, salvors are now having to contend with the 15 cattle trucks on deck.

Local reports on Sunday stated 17 of the 244 cattle had already died. The ship’s hull was breached and its engine room flooded with some oil pollution spotted in a remote area dotted with hills and fjords, renowned for its natural beauty.

Salvors are attempting to stabilise the ship before working out how best to take them to safety, likely via a ship-to-ship transfer. Food and water is being delivered the cattle through the top of the trucks.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. We in the industry all wince when accidents of this scale come into the public view. It is in and of itself a horrible disaster not only involving oil pollution and salvage. But the unique addition of live cattle onboard. There is a lot more livestock transported both east and westbound in the Hawaii-west coast trade, as well as inter-island, than most people realize. So I see it all the time. I can imagine what a challenge this will be to salvors.

    But above all else, I can’t help but wonder what the Master was going through, his mental state. I also know that the other officers had to have a sense that something may have been bothering the Captain, but what would they say or do? The maritime hierarchy and cultural differences (?) onboard likely prevented the other officers from even approaching the Captain, much less have a discussion with hime on anything bothering him.

    It’s the world seafarers live in. The Master, by himself, responsible for all, regardless of whatever else may be eating him alive inside his empty heart & soul. He must still act to ensure a safe ship and crew. This accident demonstrates how bad it can be. And how would anyone know?

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