Operation begins to remove stricken Astrid from rocks

Salvage experts have cut miles of rigging and shredded sails from the wreck of the tall ship Astrid which could be lifted off rocks within days.

Operation begins to remove stricken Astrid from rocks

They are hopeful that with favourable weather and sea conditions forecast, the vessel could be removed from the Cork coast by the end of next week.

The 95-year-old Dutch training vessel has remained stuck fast on rocks just east of Kinsale harbour since running aground on Jul 24.

The salvage operation, which is being led by West Cork-based Atlantic Towage and Marine, got under way over the weekend.

Several tugs anchored near the wreck on Saturday and divers spent several hours clearing ropes from parts of the vessel which are underwater, and removing debris from the rocks.

Other salvage workers scrambled over the masts and rigging and removed other hazards from the hull.

The workers also sealed the vessel’s fuel tanks and fuel lines to prevent any pollution spills. It is believed at least 3.5 tonnes of diesel and oil remain in two of the vessel’s four fuel tanks.

Workers are now planning to remove the upper sections of the vessel’s taller masts to allow a floating crane’s boom to extend safely over the wreck.

Atlantic Towage and Marine’s managing director, Seán Harrington said: “Everything has gone according to plan so far, and we are still on schedule.”

Hugh Barry, the Coast Guard’s pollution control officer, said he and his officials — who are monitoring the operation — are satisfied with the progress made so far.

Once all the hazards are removed, the salvage team will fit several heavy-duty straps to the ship’s hull as a floating crane makes it way from Britain. Once the crane is in position early next week, the team will begin lifting the 250-tonne vessel clear of the rocks and on to a barge.

When the sea water drains away, the fuel will be siphoned from the ship’s tanks. The wreck will then be transported to dry dock and handed back to its insurers.

Local Coast Guard units are monitoring the operation, and Coast Guard officers in Dublin are getting regular updates from the salvage team.

Mr Barry said they have insisted that the salvage team conduct an underwater photographic and video survey after the vessel is removed. This footage will be compared to a previous survey of the area to ensure that everything has been removed from the rocks.

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