Smit Salvage plans to refloat the grounded ferry Marco Polo on Wednesday, 31 October. With upcoming bad weather later this week, the refloating is to take place as soon as possible. The ferry will be taken to the Stilleryd harbour in Karlshamn.

Shipping company TT-Line states that due to the movement of the Marco Polo into a new position on the 29th October and the worsening weather conditions to be expected later this week, a new salvage plan has been prepared and shared with the relevant authorities. Within this new salvage plan, the refloating is further prioritised.

Smit under supervision and with the support of the Swedish authorities, in coordination and with assistance from TT-Line are currently preparing all available resources to support the refloating plan in order to mitigate the impact of the incident as well as possible and to avoid further oil spills. This work is expected to take a few more hours once the plan has been finalised.

The Swedish Coast Guard and the Swedish Transport Agency are now reviewing the details of the salvage plan and once they have submitted their comments, the salvage can begin.

Also read: Grounded ferry Marco Polo leaks more oil

Offloading oil once refloated

Once the Marco Polo is refloated, it will be towed to a predetermined anchorage location approximately 1 nautical mile to the southeast of the current grounded position and offload the remaining bunker oil from the unbreeched tanks. The bunker tanker Fram is standing by for this operation.

The ferry will then be taken to the Stilleryd harbour in Karlshamn, which is prepared to receive the ferry.

Also read: Swedish Coast Guard detects palm oil spill and traces it to tanker

Oil spill response continues

So far, the situation of the Marco Polo remains unchanged on Tuesday. The Coast Guard continues to recover oil at sea. The discharge from the Marco Polo has now stopped. Booms are being used to contain the spilled oil around the ship to prevent it from spreading.

Efforts to collect oil both further out to sea and close to shore continues today (31 October). The Coast Guard is using both boats and personnel with oil pits to collect oil in the water.

In total, the Coast Guard has cleaned up around 50 cubic metres of oil and oil waste. The amount of oil spilled from the Marco Polo has not yet been determined. The fuel tanks damaged in the groundings contained about 160 cubic metres of oil before the accident.

The Coast Guard is again flying over the area on Tuesday to get an overview of the situation, but bad weather and low clouds are making this work difficult.

Also read: Oil spill in Sweden after ferry grounds, Smit called in for salvage

Marco Polo grounding

At 7 am on Sunday 22 October, TT-line’s passenger ferry Marco Polo ran aground south of Karlshamn, in Pukaviksbukten, Sweden. The 75 passengers and crew were unharmed, but both oil and diesel have leaked into the sea. According to the Swedish Coast Guard, the vessel initially grounded twice. After the first grounding it sailed on while leaking oil for several nautical miles before grounding again later and remaining stuck there until Sunday, 29 October. In bad weather, the ferry then came unstuck, but grounded again later on the same day, more oil then leaked from the vessel.

On 25 October, two crew members of the Marco Polo were charged with negligence in maritime traffic. The Coast Guard’s criminal investigation has shown that there is probable cause to suspect a criminal offence against two crew members who acted recklessly in connection with the two groundings.

Picture: The Swedish Coast Guards working with oil recovery booms late Monday evening (photo: Swedish Coast Guard).

Also read: Swedish Coast Guard orders new patrol vessels from Damen