A heavy-lift crane barge arrived in Hong Kong Wednesday to help salvage the wreck of a Ukrainian tugboat that sunk in Hong Kong waters in March soon after colliding with a Chinese mainland ship.
The Marine Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said the 4000-ton "Hua Tian Long" from neighboring Guangzhou will turn over and lift up the sunken vessel, which now lied upside-down on the seabed about 30 meters underwater.
The salvage operations will continue round-the-clock and involve salvage barges, tug boats and work boats. The operations were expected to complete by the end of April and "diving operations will be carried out from time to time," the department said.
The Marine Department declared the vicinity of the work site a restricted area on Wednesday to reduce risks to salvage workers and avoid congestion, barring all vessels except those authorized or directly involved in the salvage operation.
"Vessels navigating in the vicinity should keep well clear of the area and proceed with extreme caution at slow speed, bearing in mind that there are divers working in the area," the department said in a notice.
The 2,723-ton Naftogaz 67, flying Ukrainian flag, was carrying 25 sailors when it collided with Chinese freighter Yao Hai off the Lantau Island on March 22.
Six Ukrainians and a Chinese sailor were soon rescued. Divers also recovered three bodies in diving efforts to search the shipwreck. The rest 15 of the Ukrainian sailors were still missing and believed to be trapped inside the cabin of the shipwreck.
Diving efforts to search the shipwreck went on for seven days before it was called off on March 29 due to dangers arising from debris, strong currents and low visibility.
(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2008)