X-Press Feeders, former operators of the fire-stricken container ship X-Press Pearl, have said that salvage works on the wreck have been suspended for the arriving southwest monsoon season. The aft section of the wreck was already removed in January.
The fore section was supposed to be raised soon after the aft section, depending on prevailing weather conditions. However, the Shanghai Salvage Companies’ onsite team, with tandem lifting barges ZR122 and ZR123, was unable to do this before the onset of the monsoon seasen and have now demobilised. They have put in place caretaking arrangements at the site to monitor the situation during the monsoonal months.
The Shanghai Salvage Company had successfully removed the aft section of the wreck in January, transporting it aboard the semi-submersible Fan Zhou 10 out of Sri Lankan waters.
Salvage works on the wreck will recommence after the end of the southwest monsoon season, with plans to lift the remaining fore section and transport it to a certified decommissioning facility for dismantling, recycling, and disposal.
X-Press Pearl fire and sinking
While waiting at the outer harbour of the Port of Colombo for a berth to carry out scheduled container handlings, a fire broke out on the X-Press Pearl on 20 May 2021. After thirteen days of firefighting, the fire was contained. Due to bad weather and structural damage, however, the vessel’s sinking could not be prevented. The cause of the fire was allegedly a container leaking nitric acid.
The ship has since been resting on the seabed with a massive cleanup operation continuing around it and ashore and preparations being made for removal of the wreck.
As far as is known, the travel ban for the Russian Captain remains in place despite efforts of X-Press Feeders to have him released for travel back to his family and homeland.
Picture by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.