Ship detonated to split hull for easier removal

Explosives were yesterday used on a stricken container ship to try and split it in half so it can be removed from a World Heritage Coast.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), working with the Ministry of Defence, used the precision explosive charges on the MSC Napoli which is grounded off Sidmouth, Devon. The Salvage Marine Operations unit of the MoD are helping with the operation to split the vessel.

Morgyn Davies, MoD Chief Salvage Officer, said: “The MCA has asked us to employ explosive cutting on the Napoli.

“The ship has a number of structural flaws that require strength members to be cut to release the hull into two parts. The idea is to operate explosives to cut in more of a surgical manner.”

A 1,000m exclusion zone was placed around the ship.

The MCA were inspecting the Napoli last night to see what damage the explosives had done. The MCA warned that residual oil could be released.

About 200 tons of oil leaked from the vessel when she was first grounded in January amid fears she could sink after her hull cracked in a storm off Cornwall.

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