The salvage operation of the grounded ferry Marco Polo began at 7 am on Wednesday morning (1 November), with the vessel successfully refloated by 7.45. The vessel was then moved to a new location where the damage to the ship will be assessed by divers.

By pressurising parts of the breached void spaces, the vessel was slowly lifted from its position on the seabed. To prevent any uncontrolled drifting, two tugboats stabilised the Marco Polo during this operation, one at the bow and one at the stern.

The Marco Polo was then brought to its new location by the tugs approximately one nautical mile to the southeast. The anchorage on the current location was chosen together with the pilots of the area. The ship dropped its own anchors at 09.20 at the new location.

Also read: Smit to salvage grounded ferry Marco Polo on Wednesday

Damage inspection

On Wednesday, a renewed dive survey will be conducted to assess the full damage of the ship. It has not been possible to inspect the entire hull before, as the ship and the hull were aground. The survey is being conducted by Smit Salvage.

Once this is completed, the Marco Polo will be towed to Stillerydshamnen in Karlshamn. The Swedish Maritime Administration is responsible for piloting the Marco Polo into the harbour.

Also read: Grounded ferry Marco Polo leaks more oil

Ready for more oil spills

The Swedish Coast Guard has several units on site to be prepared in case oil is spilled during the towing operation. A small amount of oil has come out during the morning. A pilot from the Swedish Maritime Administration and units of the Swedish Sea Rescue Society are available at the site as well.

In a statement, shipping company TT-Line says that it ‘is grateful for the support and professional cooperation with the authorities in Sweden and the experts involved. We are also fully aware of the impact the incident has on the environment and the affected communities, as well as of the overwhelming commitment of all voluntary helpers.’

UPDATE Wednesday, 1 November 8.30 pm

On Wednesday evening, the Swedish Coast Guard said that Smit Salvage will tow the vessel to Stillerydshamnen in Karlshamn on Thursday morning. The work will start at 08.00 and is expected to last until lunchtime.

Several Coast Guard vessels were in the area around the Marco Polo to collect oil on Wednesday. The oil spill was less than feared during the move. This was largely due to the fact that the salvage company chose not to pressurise the tanks closest to the damaged ones. The Coast Guard had several units on site on Wednesday to clean up the small amount of oil found at sea.

The hired salvage company is responsible for the towing and a pilot will be on board. The Coast Guard is allocating resources to ensure that any oil spillage is dealt with. When the Marco Polo is moored in the harbour, the rescue services take over and the Coast Guard assists from the sea side.

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, with more oil leaking 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: Many organisations are working together to salvage the Marco Polo (by the Swedish Coast Guard).

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