On 25 December 2000, in rough seas, the bulk carrier the Coral Bulker,
registered in Hong Kong, was anchored and waiting to enter Viana
do Castello harbour (Portugal). She had travelled from Tallinn (Estonia)
with a cargo of wood shavings and timber. At 11 pm, the ship hit
the outside harbour wall. Its bilge was severely damaged and the
starboard side tank n°4 and the engine room were flooded. The
whole crew was evacuated by helicopter.
The 100 to 150 tonnes of heavy propulsion fuel leaked out of the ship, threatening to pollute the beaches situated in the areas north and south of the harbour, as well as the estuary of the river Lima. The onshore clean-up operations allowed 6,500 bags of fuel and polluted sand to be collected. The Viana do Costello harbour was protected by floating booms.
The maritime rescue company TITAN Marine, contracted by the P&I Club to remove the shipwreck under supervision of the Portuguese Navy, immediately sent its staff and equipment, based in Fort Lauderdale (Florida) and Newhaven (GB) on site.
A certain amount of fuel and lubricating oil remained aboard. On 21 January, after a few interruptions due to gusts of wind, the 42 tonnes were finally pump transferred into lorries. Eight tonnes of emulsion were also recovered from the water surface.
The tree trunks stocked on the deck, the hold boards and finally the lumber and wood shavings stored in the holds, were unloaded. This proved to be no easy task to carry out, as waves regularly swept across the deck.
The strategy elaborated by TITAN Marine to manage the operation consisted of hoisting the wreck on the rocky slope of the harbour wall, in order to cut in up safely.
At first, superstructures were removed, a task which took three weeks. Then the vessel was cut into two parts with a 17 tonne pestle-graver guided from a winch installed on the ground and with one of the nearby purpose-built cranes. Once this difficult and risky operation had been successfully completed, the bow part of the Coral Bulker was hoisted on top of the breakwater with shackles and winches soldered to the hold boards placed on the inner part of the breakwater.
The burying in the breakwater of these 7.5 m long boards, 7 metres wide and weighing 80 tonnes each, was not an easy job. Traction movement was synchronized from a control tower set up on the breakwater by using spare parts of the vessel’s superstructure. The sheet metal of the bow part was cut out by the 25 March 2001. The operations concerning the stern part of the bulk tanker were exactly the same. The stern was hoisted on the breakwater on 9 June and was cut out too.
The site was then fully restored.
Name: Coral Bulker
Date: 25 December 2000
Accident area : Port of Viana do Castelo
Cause of spill : grounding
Quantities transported : 19,000 tonnes of wood, 630 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 100 tonnes of diesel oil and lubricants
Type of pollutants : heavy fuel oil and diesel oil
Quantities spilled : 630 tonnes of heavy fuel oil + 70 tonnes of diesel oil
Ship type : bulk carrier
Date built : 1991
Shipyard : Imabari Zosen, Imabari, Japan
Length : 169.03 m
Width : 27.23 m
Draught : 9.7 m
Flag : Hong Kong
Owner : Alderran Shipping
Classification society : Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, Japan
P&I Club : The London Steamship owners Mutual Insurance Asso Ltd
9th Cedre Information Day
Dealing with a wreck stranded on a port breakwater : the Coral Bulker - Capt. Raul Henrique Isidro Valente
9th Cedre Information Day
Dealing with a wreck stranded on a port breakwater : the Coral Bulker - Eng. Alvaro Guidotti, Titan
CD-ROM Remoçao do N/M "Coral Bulker"
Viana do Costelo, Portugal. Direcçao Geral de Marinha, Serviço de Combate à Poluiçao no Mar por Hidrocarbonetos - Praça do Comércio - 1188 Lisboa Codex Portugal.
Last update: June 2011