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How will the operation to recover the L'Ecume II trawler wreck work?

How will the operation to recover the L'Ecume II trawler wreck work?

Tuesday 11 April 2023

How will the operation to recover the L'Ecume II trawler wreck work?

Tuesday 11 April 2023


The operation to raise the L’Ecume II fishing trawler which sank in Jersey waters on 8 December 2022 following a collision with the Commodore Goodwill is due to start shortly... but how will the recovery process actually work?

The 60-metre-long Herbosch-Kiere Gaverland recovery barge (pictured top) and the Multrasalvor 3, a 20-metre tugboat, have both now arrived in Jersey ahead of the planned lifting operation later this month.

Video: The Herbosch-Kiere Gaverland recovery barge is a 60-metre-long crane barge.

In February, it was announced that a decision had been taken to raise the wreck for both "evidential gain and for humanitarian reasons".

Senior civil servant Richard Corrigan said that raising the vessel would allow for a land-based inspection and also help to "conclusively" determine whether the body of Michael Michieli was trapped aboard.

The trawler, skippered by Mr Michieli, sank after a collision with Condor’s Commodore Goodwill freight ship off Jersey’s west coast at around 05:30 on Thursday 8 December.  

The bodies of Filipino crewmen Jervis Ramirez Baligat and Larry Simyunn were later recovered from the wreck – and have since been repatriated and laid to rest – but the body of Mr Michieli was not found.

SeaTech Commercial Diving will carry out the diving operations to raise the wreck under the control of Herbosch-Kiere Marine Contractors Ltd, who are experts in salvage and recovery operations and have previously worked on major marine infrastructure projects in Jersey.

The preparation

A 21-metre dive support vessel, the Willchallenge has arrived in Jersey, and will act as a floating base for the the specialist dive team who are due to arrive later this week.

Once the specialist dive team have arrived, they will start preliminary work to raise the wreck. This involves spending the next few days preparing for and undertaking a dive survey, ahead of the lifting operation starting.

LecumeII-CREDIT-RobCurrie.jpg

Pictured: The L'Ecume II trawler. (Rob Currie)

The divers will also be carrying out further exploration of the wreck, as well as collecting items from the surrounding debris field.

The dive depths have been assessed at a minimum of 40 metres, so a fully containerised dive system and recompression chamber will be used to ensure the teams are able to complete the operation safely.

The raise

Following the dive survey and exploration, the wreck raise will require a fair-weather window of five days to go ahead. Teams involved will be continually assessing the conditions to determine when the lift can happen.

The maritime exclusion zone will be increased from 250 metres to 1,000 metres in all directions around the wreck site to facilitate a safe and effective recovery operation.

The Harbour Master will issue a Notice to Mariners advising of the extension of the maritime exclusion zone once he is satisfied that a suitable weather window for the commencement of the wreck recovery operation has been identified.

The transportation

Once the wreck has been raised, it will be transported to La Collette where it will be stored at a secure location under police supervision.

The transportation of the wreck to the site will take place outside of business hours and will require several road closures. Businesses in the vicinity will be contacted nearer the time when advance notice of road closures will be issued.

Once the wreck is on land, it will be in the possession of the police and will form part of the ongoing police investigation — Operation Nectar.

fishermen - Baligat simyunn Michieli

Pictured: Jervis Baligat, Mick Michieli and Larry Simyunn were all aboard the L'Ecume II when it sank - Mr Michieli has never been found.

Deputy Chief Minister, Deputy Kirsten Morel said: "Raising the L'Ecume II will assist with the ongoing police investigation by providing access to potentially the best available evidence, but there is also an important humanitarian aspect to raising the wreck, which I hope will bring the bereaved families closer to the answers they have been seeking."

He added: "Raising the wreck will be a complex and sensitive operation. I would like to thank all the teams who have been working hard to mobilise the wreck-raise and thoroughly plan the logistics of securing it once it is on land."

Pictured top: A still of the 60-metre-long Herbosch-Kiere Gaverland recovery barge dredging and backfilling a 350m trench in the shallow nearshore tidal zone at Courance beach. (Herbosch-Kiere on YouTube)

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