Client: Solent Towage Ltd
Contractor: MMC Diving Services & RS Divers
Duration: 6 days
Date posted: 12-04-2015
MMC Diving Services and RS Divers completed the salvage of the sunken tug Asterix, after it turned over in Southampton water, only one crew member managed to escape, and as the vessel listed it trapped the other crew member inside the wheelhouse. Isle of Wight based divers MMC received a call at 20:55 from Southampton VTS requiring a rapid response to mobilise a dive team urgently to retrieve the casualty. MMC's response time to site with a 5 man dive team dressed in ready to dive was 58 minutes.
Fortunately one of the crew members from Solent Towage had spotted a hand waving in the cab window and jumped into the freezing water, smashed the window pulling the crew member free, just minutes before the vessel plummeted to the seabed in 10 meters of water.
A number of dives were undertaken to close all the fuel tank vents and air breathers on deck that led into the engine room. A further penetration dive was carried out below deck to close the engine room door to minimise any impact leakage of fuel, oil and hydraulic fluid would have on the environment. Diver Guy Beeson reports, "it was pitch black, everything you would expect to see on the floor was upside down and floating about below deck, I had to feel my way along one hand in front of the other".
A lift plan was put together for a hundred ton lift using the crane barge Apache. The four lift points on the deck were each to secure a 25 ton strops with a 25 ton shackle, however, when the divers went to secure the shackles the deck eyes were only 44mm and the shackle pins wouldn't fit so the plan was reduced to a 70 ton lift using smaller 17.5 ton shackles.
The crane supported the weight of the vessel while large 6 inch diesel pumps emptied the water and fuel from all compartments into holding tanks on the support vessels, oil booms had been deployed to contain any spillage, and fortunately the impact on the environment was almost zero.