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A support vessel beside the Seikongen after the sinking last year. The wellboat will be re-floated when weather conditions allow.
A support vessel beside the Seikongen after the sinking last year. The wellboat will be re-floated when weather conditions allow.

An operation to re-float a wellboat that sank in Chile last October has been postponed for a second time because of bad weather.

The Hong Kong-built Seikongen, which is lying on its side in shallow water, was originally scheduled to be raised last Saturday, but the operation was put off until today.

The vessel’s owner, CPT Empresas, has now announced that conditions are again unsuitable and it expects the ship to be re-floated during the first ten days of July. The company intends to repair the ship – which was almost new - after moving it to Talcahuano, around 800km to the north.

The sinking

The Seikongen sank off the coast of Pilpilehue, in Chonchi, on October 18, 2017, while providing services to the Pipilehue salmon farming centre in Camanchaca.

The 11 crew were safely transferred to another vessel.

The vessel was carrying 200 tonnes of salmon.

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The barge Moraleda and the naval vessel Yagacina are available to support the re-floating, and salvage experts have also installed a system of pullers on the beach to support the process.

“There are diving manoeuvres that are extremely complex to perform in bad weather conditions, especially because they affect visibility conditions; one of the key advances was to anchor the Seikongen to the Moraleda, and it is not yet possible because of the wind,” the company said.

It added: “We have made progress in everything we can and are carrying out daily assessments of the forecast and wind gusts.”

A hatch was created in the hull of the ship to pump out decomposing fish.
A hatch was created in the hull of the ship to pump out decomposing fish.

CPT Empresas said the re-floating may continue to be postponed for reasons of climatic nature and worker safety.

For now, a deadline for re-floating has not been established, since the company is working in a coordinated manner with authorities and the possibility of suspending work has not been considered.

The company concluded: “The idea is to carry out the re-flotation operations as soon as possible, not only to take it to Talcahuano, but to lighten the issue for the community and to fix the boat so that it can operate again. The ship is going to be repaired, it will not be returned or written off.”

There is still no news about the investigation of the sinking carried out by the Chilean Navy.

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