x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Sunken ship close to being raised

The company hired to carry out the salvage says it could be done within 36 hours.

UMM AL QAIWAIN // Work to salvage the wreckage of a ship that sank off the emirate's coast four months ago is nearing completion, says the firm contracted to raise the vessel.

The White Whale was carrying several hundred tonnes of diesel when it sank 16 kilometres off the Umm Al Qaiwain coast on October 22.

Dubai Ship Building, the company contracted by the Ministry of Environment and Water to bring the ship to the surface, spent the weekend attaching retrieval cables to the White Whale.

"On Friday we started putting the wires beneath the ship and we have today completely tied the ship with our ropes and wires," said Hamad Mohammed Obaid Mubarak, head of the salvage project.

"The work has actually taken us two days because it has been a big job: there have been a lot of wires to pass through."

Mr Mubarak and his colleagues are working out of prefabricated offices on a barge moored next to the salvage rig. From the office, they monitor the progress of divers through video and audio feeds.

The ship lies about 30 metres below the surface, 11 nautical miles off the coast of UAQ - about 30 minutes by boat.

Previous attempts to raise it were delayed by bad weather. "On Friday, we received assurances from the meteorological offices that the weather would be calm for some days," said Mr Mubarak.

Once work to balance the wreck has been completed, the ship will be raised - possibly by as early as this afternoon, or on Monday.

The Ministry of Environment and Water said it would hold a conference as soon as the vessel was raised.