During a year where pretty much everything seems new and/or different, there’s one summer rerun/sequel in the works in Svalbard as crews are attempting again to remove the wrecked Northguider trawler from the northern part of the archipelago after similar efforts failed last year.
The Northguider ran aground in Hinlopenstretet on Dec. 28, 2018, and while much of the hazardous materials aboard were removed during subsequent weeks, harsh weather, ice conditions and other factors have prevented efforts to tow the vessel away and then salvage it when it became clear the vessel was too damaged to be removed intact. But a press release issued by the Norwegian Coastal Administration this week stated removal work is again underway and is expected to continue until Sept. 30.
“The trawler must be divided into smaller parts (approx. 50 parts of five tons) which are lifted onto a barge and then transported away,” the release notes. “The method does not require longer continuous periods of good weather. It will also be less time consuming to stop the operation and start up again when ice and weather conditions change.”
The wreck “poses little danger of significant acute environmental pollution,” the coastal administration stated. But because it is in a protected area and can break down further the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act mandates the ship’s owner remove the vessel.
“There has never been a wreckage removal carried out so far north,” the release adds.
The banned travel area in Hinlopenstredet includes a sea area bounded by the shoreline at Sparreneset and straight lines between the following positions:
• 1) 79°54.29 ′ N, 18°04.54 ′ E
• 2) 79°54.38 ′ N, 17°58.82 ′ E
• 3) 79°53.05 ′ N, 18°00.34 ′ E
• 4) 79°53.60 ′ N, 18°06.37 ′ E
The removal is being done by the salvage company SMIT Salvage, which attempted the project in 2019. Two barges, tugs for them, anchor handling vessels and vessels that will be able to keep small amounts of ice away from the work area will be involved. In addition, the former research ship Lance will participate. The work starts this week and is scheduled to take place until around mid-September.
Opilio AS, the company that owns the Northguider, was fined 300,000 kroner and the ship’s captain 35,000 kroner earlier this summer for safety and navigation violations.