The container ship Kea Trader ran aground the Durand reef, 92km South-East of Maré island (Loyalty islands, New Caledonia), full quill on the coral. The shipwreck happened last week during the night from Tuesday 11 to Wednesday 12, but it is now clear that the ship is completely blocked. Important resources have been mobilized by New Caledonia, France and the ship-owner to avoid an ecological catastrophe.
On television the 17th July in the evening, the captain Jean-Louis Fournier, who commands the local maritime zone, explains that the first priority to avoid a massive hydrocarbon spill was to pump the 750 tons of viscous fioul from the container ship’s tanks. Then a long process of weeks or even months will be needed to refloat the boat.
For the time being, the ship-owner has sent the tugboat Marcel-Viratelle with pollution control equipment, while the French Navy sent its frigate D’Entrecasteaux. 15 tons of specialized materials are being shipped by air from Singapour, while the hydrographic research vessel Louis-Hénin was rerouted to map the water currents around the wreck.
A huge economic cost and a potential ecological disaster that local still don’t understand: the Durand reef is well known and has been mapped a century ago.
The Kea trader is 184 meters long for 30 meters across, and carries 2194 containers. For the moment, no loss of life or accidenta pollution have been signaled in this spectacular accident.
Photo: Armed Forces of New Caledonia, FANC.