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Suva's sea of steel

Mere Naleba
Thursday, February 01, 2018

FUNDING constraints are hindering the removal of derelict vessels in Suva Harbour.

Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd (FPCL) CEO Vajira Piyasena said there were a total of nine vessels submerged within Suva Harbour and their removal was subject to availability of funds.

He said Pacific Towing Ltd, a Papua New Guinea-based company, as well as Perrott Salvage Pty Ltd Australia had been identified to carry out assessment work that included the possible removal of the MV Southern Phoenix.

"FPCL is keen to work with these companies for the removal of the other wrecks in the Suva Harbour and look into the possibility of engaging these companies to remove other derelict vessels," Mr Piyasena said.

"However, removal of other derelicts will be subject to availability of funds and at this stage, acquiring funds is the biggest challenge."

Mr Piyasena said last year FPCL paid more than $220,000 to remove two vessels — MV Sea Love and MV Tovuto.

"The partially submerged Sea Love was winched to dry ground at a cost of $85,000 and the Tovuto was towed and scuttled 1.4 miles south-west of the main Suva passage, at a depth of between 250 to 300 metres, at a cost in excess of $220,000," he said.

Mr Piyasena said there were two vessels that are on top of FPCL's removal list — MV Suilven and MV Southern Phoenix.

The MV Suilven sank in the Suva Harbour on November 24, 2015.

Owned by Venu Shipping, MV Suilven was carrying 25 twenty-feet reefer containers and four trucks, including 30 crew members and four passengers who were the truck drivers, at the time it went down.

The MV Southern Phoenix sank in Suva Harbour on May 6 last year carrying 183 metric tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 30 metric tonnes of medium diesel oil, 179 containers, break bulk cargo and other cargo.

Mr Piyasena said the removal of the MV Southern Phoenix was the responsibility of the vessel owner Cruz Holdings Ltd.

"However, FPCL is working closely with the contractors responsible for the removal of this sunken vessel," Mr Piyasena said.

In another development, resource owners of the iqoliqoli (traditional fishing grounds) where the derelict vessels are submerged say they want the ships removed as soon as possible.

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