The beginning of 2012 involved the salvage case of the backacter bucket dredger ‘JIN TAI’. This backhoe dredger was working on the construction and expansion of the newly built container port of Coega near Port Elizabeth (South Africa), when it experienced a problem with one of the vessels’ legs. A cable attached to one of the three spud piles came loose, causing one of the legs to give way and the engine room start flooding.
The crew was able to temporarily stabilise the vessel to a certain extent by manoeuvring a dump barge into a position where it could support the dredging bucket and thereby prevent the ‘JIN TAI’ from complete capsizing. The vessel had a list of 25 degrees and at this stage the crew abandoned the dredger. The same morning SMIT Salvage was appointed as salvor and a salvage team was mobilised from Cape Town.
After a thorough inspection on site and discussions with the dredger’s owners and the authorities, a two phase salvage operation consisting of a debunkering phase and a refloating phase was agreed. Equipment and crew were brought in from various SMIT locations such as Cape Town, Durban and Rotterdam. All the fuel and other pollutants were safely removed and after the necessary preparations the refloating commenced following dewatering using high volume pumps. A large AHTS, brought in from Cape Town, was used as a work platform. Once the ‘JIN TAI’ had been successfully refloated, it was moored up alongside the new quayside for further repairs before it resumed work.