Orange cable ship salvage underway in Namibia
The operation to salvage mobile service provider France Telecom-Orange’s cable ship, the Chamarel, which ran aground following a fire on 8 August, is now underway. The ship is currently located on sand banks 30 km from Henties Bay in Namibia. Every effort is being made by the Group and the experts in charge of the salvage operation to minimize the environmental impact of this incident.
The Namibian Ministry of Transport has requested that France Telecom-Orange remove any pollutants from the vessel and move her to a location where she will not pose any threat to the environment. In agreement with the insurance companies, a specialist company, Smit Salvage, has been appointed to oversee these operations.
Following an initial assessment of damage to the vessel, the risk of pollution is minimal and can be controlled. The fuel bunkers, which are largely undamaged, currently contain less than a quarter of the vessel’s total capacity of marine gas oil, most of the fuel having already been used during the maintenance operation prior to the fire or burnt off during the fire.
Although the exact timing remains subject to meteorological conditions, work is already underway to pump the remaining fuel ashore into mobile tanks, which will then be removed via a temporary road. As an additional precaution, a floating barrage has also been put in place around the vessel to contain any spillages.
At the present time, measures taken by Namibian authorities have shown that there is no significant pollution in the water.
All 56 crew members were safely recovered by a nearby fishing vessel without injury or incident. With the exception of several key officers, who have remained in Namibia to assist with ongoing operations, the crew has now been repatriated.
This incident has no impact on submarine cables in the area which will continue to function normally. FT Marine, a fully-owned subsidiary of France Telecom-Orange, has taken all appropriate measures to manage maintenance operations. Notably, another of FT Marine’s cable ships, the Leon Thevenin, will sail on 21 August to Cape Town in South Africa. She will be available by the end of the month to intervene in any incidents affecting cables in the region.