On 12th July 2017 the 185-meter-long, 25,293dwt vessel Kea Trader ran hard aground on a reef near the island of Maré in the Loyalty Islands. She was bound for Noumea from Papeete when she struck the Durand Reef, some 100km southeast of Maré. The vessel was firmly on the reef and the situation was described as stable with no reports of injuries or pollution released. At the time of grounding the Kea trader was carrying 756 containers and 750 tonnes of heavy fuel oil.
Briggs Marine’s Environmental Services Division were contracted to support Ardent Global in their salvage efforts, the Company supplied Emergency Pollution Responders, Oil Spill Advisors and oil containment/recovery equipment. A team and equipment were immediately mobilised from Aberdeen to New Caledonia, where they worked closely with Ardent, the French Navy, the ship owners and local authorities to ensure the safe operation of removing fuel bunkers and recovering any leaked hydrocarbons.
On arrival in New Caledonia the Briggs Team quickly mobilised several vessels with spill response equipment and crews on the appointed vessels were immediately trained in:
The shore-based Oil Spill Advisor drew up response plans for potential spill scenarios, which were submitted to the French Government for approval, and advised all oil spill containment/recovery operations throughout the operation to Ardent, the French Navy and local authorities on a daily basis.
As the incident occurred during the winter months, this presented several challenges to the Team. The deployment of equipment and containment of the spill were particularly difficult due to the proximity to the casualty and the sea state varied from one metre to four metre swells during good weather days and up to 12m breaking waves on bad days. There were also several cyclones and significant storms in the South Pacific during the salvage operation, which resulted in the deterioration of the vessel and inevitably the Kea Trader ruptured completely into two sections on Sunday 16th November.
When the vessel broke into two, the response plans remained the same, however there was a greater likelihood the remaining hydrocarbons would release as the Kea Trader deteriorated each day. The area surrounding the vessel is an environmentally sensitive area and is home to aquatic life and marine mammals, therefore our response personnel and equipment remained in close proximity to the vessel at all times, to ensure any spill was dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Briggs Marine worked tirelessly on the project and had a four-man team working on a continuous rota system from 12th July 2017 until 13th April 2018. Cooperation between Briggs, Ardent, the French Navy and local authorities in a challenging and environmentally sensitive area, contributed to the successful outcome of removing the containers, fuel and other potentially harmful substances.
Jamie Campbell, Operations Manager of Briggs Environmental Services Division said; “While the unintended grounding of any vessel is a tragedy, this has been a great example of how co-operation between Ardent Global and Briggs Marine has been a great success. The professionalism and commitment of all involved proved that, even in the most challenging locations, when working together as a team – you can resolve a potentially devastating outcome.”