Contractor commences wreckage removal in Demerara River

Dutch maritime solutions provider, Koole Contractors has begun a wreckage removal project in the Demerara River.  

They were hired by the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) to remove three separate wreckages. The $787.6 million contract was signed early last month between Director General at MARAD, Stephen Thomas and Koole Contractors’ representative, Janneke Kuijper.

Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) Harbour Master (ag) Glasford Archer

“These wrecks present have hindered and, I would say, restrict more or less, the manoeuvering of vessels within the harbours or in close proximity to the harbours,” said Harbour Master (ag) at MARAD, Glasford Archer.  

“The removal of these wrecks is very important because it will enable safe navigation…”

Archer said there were attempts to remove the wreckages in the past but they were unsuccessful. He expressed optimism that the company will be successful in making the waterway much safer.

Koole Contractors project manager, Marc Rooijakkers

Marc Rooijakkers, Koole’s project manager, told DPI that day one of the project, Saturday, will allow the company to orient itself with the location of the first undersea wreckage, a barge.

The process involves using Koole’s custom built machinery to cut up the barge, then remove it from the sea bit by bit. It’s estimated that the removal of the barge wreckage will take about two weeks.

“It is a barge, about 50 by 12.5 metres, and we’re going to remove this wreck with the chisel method,” Rooijakkers said.

This equipment, called the grapple, will be used to lift the wreckage out of the sea

“The chisel method is a method that we developed ourselves, with Koole Contractors. It’s basically a 17.5-tonne steel plate which we lift 22 metres high and then we let it fall with a free fall.”

“As soon as the wreck is hit into small sections with the steel plate, we will connect the grapple, and with the grapple, we will lift out the several wreck sections. Depending on the state of the wreck, the grapple can also break the wreck into sections. As soon as we have a firm grip on the wreck, then we can lift the wreck on board the vessel into small sections, and escort them on board the barge.”

This steel plate weighs 17.5 tonnes. It will be dropped into the sea to break the wreckage into small sections.

He said Koole can’t know for sure how long it will take to remove all three wreckages but the company is working with a rough estimate of two to three months.

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