Kea Trader grounded in July. Credit: Lomar
The casualty of the 2,194 teu Kea Trader, which has been stuck on a reef 90 nm southeast of New Caledoniasince its grounding on 12 July, has escalated into a total loss, the ship’s owner, London-based Lomar Shipping, advised on Friday.
“The company has regrettably had to agree with its H&M insurer that the vessel cannot be repaired and will need to be recycled,” Lomar said in a statement. The wreck removal will be performed by Dutch salvor Ardent Maritime which had also been in charge of the salvage operation for the Kea Trader under a Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF) since 13 July.
Following the removal of 532 of 756 loaded containers on board the Kea Trader, the full extent of the damage and deterioration of the ship since its grounding have become evident. Inspections have identified extensive damage to hull, rudder, and propeller.
“Most double bottom tanks have been affected. There is water ingress in all five cargo holds, which is being controlled by portable pumps where possible to protect cargo,” Lomar said. “There is also evidence of further structural damage within the vessel and additional deterioration being caused whilst she remains on the rock reef during the rough swells,” it added.
The owner would not put a deadline for the refloating of the wreck, “plans and timelines are continuously changing given developments on site,” a Lomar representative told Fairplay. The local authority, Haut Commissariat Nouvelle Calédonie, said earlier this week that a refloating is not realistic until the end of October.
The wreck removal is expected to end up as one of the largest claims for the International Group of P&I Clubs, with the first layer up to USD10 million to be absorbed by Kea Trader’s liability insurer Skuld.
The Kea Trader was only launched in January 2017 at the Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China. The 25,293 mt deadweight vessel is registered in Valletta, Malta, and had been sailing from Papeete, in French Polynesia, to Noumea in New Caledonia, loaded with 756 container units under period charter to reefer specialist Seatrade when it ran aground in mid-July.