Skip to comments.Albany NY - Capsized 'Stellamare' gets lift
Posted on 12/30/2003 5:58:42 AM PST by NYer
Workers use heavy cable and floating barges to begin the righting of the Stellamare on Monday.
It was almost imperceptible at first. Slowly and almost silently, the Stellamare started to move on Monday.
It was 4 p.m. when two massive waterborne cranes began righting the Dutch-owned cargo ship that had lain on its side at the Port of Albany since capsizing Dec. 9 while a General Electric Co. generator was being loaded.
By 4:07 p.m., the moving was done for the day and the 289-foot vessel was more than halfway upright, even farther than had been planned for the first step in refloating the ship.
Work stopped at sunset and will resume this morning. The port (left) side of the ship still is submerged, but most of the superstructure is now out of the water.
There was still no sign, however, of a missing Russian sailor. The bodies of the two other crewmen killed in the accident had already been recovered from the cargo hold.
"We obviously will continue our search for the seaman. That is our number-one priority," said Jesse Lewis, a spokesman for Jumbo Shipping, the Dutch company that owns the heavy-lift ship.
Plans had called for two cranes -- one at the front and another at the back of the Stellamare -- to lift it to a 45-degree angle, with water draining and being pumped out so divers could go into the cargo hold sometime today to examine another GE generator welded to the floor.
The lift went so smoothly that the ship was righted to about 30 degrees, said U.S. Coast Guard Commander John E. Cameron. "The ship actually slid on the bottom away from the wharf as it was being lifted, so they kept going a bit more," he said.
Divers are expected today to remove welds that have secured the generator in place, Cameron said. One crane will be detached from the ship and reattached to the generator, which then will be lifted out of the hold.
Then excess water will be pumped out and one or both of the cranes will be used to completely right the Stellamare, Cameron said.
Salvage crews spent Monday readying for the lift. Three large steel-and-concrete beams were lowered into place between the wharf and vessel to protect the wharf from damage if the ship strikes it while being lifted.
Workers also attached cables from the two cranes to the fore and aft masts of the ship using massive chains with links the size of a man's torso.
Cables from the first crane were attached to the T-shaped aft mast at about 2:30 p.m. The second line was secured to the forward mast about a hour later.
The two cranes have a combined maximum lifting capacity of 1,500 tons -- the equivalent of about 666 midsize SUVs, Cameron said.
"Each crane was lifting about 200 tons maximum during the lift," Cameron said. "The goal was to roll the ship, not actually lift it." The ship itself has a gross tonnage of 2,368 tons.
When it happened, the lift caught some onlookers unaware. The crane engines never raced and were barely audible, making much less noise than a bus passing on the street.
Located at the bow of the Stellamare, the larger crane, the 2,400-ton Chesapeake 1000 owned by Donjon Marine Co., of Hillside, N.J., can lift up to 1,000 tons. Its boom is more than 230 feet long.
At the ship's aft, the Weeks 533 crane owned by Weeks Marine, of Cranford, N.J., can lift up to 500 tons and has a 255-foot boom.
More than 120 workers were on job, from the salvage crew to state and city employees. "We've had great cooperation between federal and state authorities," said Mayor Jerry Jennings, who arrived shortly before 4 p.m.
Cameron said the Coast Guard aims to ensure that no further damage is done to the ship or the environment. When the Stellamare rolled over, it contained about 23,000 gallons of diesel fuel and another 70,000 gallons of "heavy" fuel oil.
About 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel that leaked have been removed from the river by cleanup crews so far, but the heavy oil did not escape because it is highly viscous at low temperatures, Cameron said.
Where the ship will go once once it is refloated has yet to be determined. "It will be inspected by divers on the outside and inside as well," Lewis said.
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