X-Press Feeders, former operators of the container ship X-Press Pearl, have confirmed that the operation to lift the fore section of the wreck has resumed. Preparations began in December with the passing of the southwest monsoon season.

The Shanghai Salvage Companies’ onsite team, with tandem lifting barges Zhong Sheng 166 and Han Hang Da Jian, have started preparations for the lifting and removal of the fore section of the wreck after successfully removing the aft section of the wreck in January 2023.

The semi-submersible GPO Amethyst will join the established salvage team onsite ahead of the eventual wreck lift to transport the final section to a certified decommissioning facility for dismantling, recycling, and disposal.

Also read: Aft ship of X-Press Pearl wreck removed from sea floor

Response tug for possible spill

The salvage teams will continue to be supported by a response tug on a 24-hour watch to deal with any pollutants that may be released during the salvage process. Representatives from Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority will remain with the salvage crews, signing off on their work as it progresses.

Also read: X-Press Pearl wreck removal delayed for Monsoon again

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. The aft section of the vessel was removed by salvors in January 2023.

Picture by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.