French authorities cease monitoring of debris from grounded containership in New Caledonia

Monitoring of debris and other materials that may have originated on a containership that had run aground on a reef in New Caledonia in 2017 will be discontinued, officials of the French government said on Monday, November 18.

The salvage effort on the Maltese-flagged Kea Trader had involved the pumping out of more than half a million litres of fuel from the vessel.

Although officials have said that they have ceased monitoring of debris that may have washed up on local beaches, vessel owner Lomar Shipping clarified that salvage operations will still continue.

Kea Trader had been operating for only six months after being delivered brand-new from China’s Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard when it struck and became stranded on Durand Reef off New Caledonia’s Mare Island at 00:55 local time on July 12, 2017.

The French government spearheaded the subsequent salvage operations since New Caledonia was a French overseas territory in the South Pacific. Lomar Shipping later hired Shanghai Salvage Company (SSC) to help remove the stranded vessel.

The removal encountered a major setback when the vessel split into two pieces after severe storms swept through the area in November 2017.

Kea Trader had been sailing from Tahiti to Noumea at the time of the incident, which maritime safety investigators from Malta have determined was the result of human error.

The vessel had reportedly been sailing at full speed when it struck the reef. Further, the crew had overlooked warning messages from the onboard navigational equipment partly since the system’s alarms were already switched off just as the grounding occurred.

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