27 September 2012
The owner of a neglected vessel moored at Goolwa was left with a big salvage bill after it sank.
One evening the vessel began taking on water and by morning had sunk to the bottom of Goolwa Channel.
Under marine law the owner was responsible for salvaging the vessel.
The low water made recovery difficult and delays resulted in the vessel getting stuck to the bottom due to the rapid growth of tube worm type coral on the hull.
Initially the salvage crew was unable to refloat the vessel and it had to be broken up and removed with an excavator and then taken away in a dump truck.
The removal required an excavator, barge, diver, salvage specialist, dump truck, and bobcat and took several days.
The total vessel salvage is estimated to be in the order of about $40,000.
The vessel was a write-off.
This unfortunate incident is a reminder to vessel owners of their responsibilities in maintaining their vessel and the potential financial liability if they choose not to.
Following are some guidelines that will ensure your vessel doesn’t end up costing you a lot more than you bargained for:
• if a vessel is not seaworthy, it should be removed from the water for repair or disposal
• a moored vessel should be attended and checked regularly to ensure that pumps are in working order, and that the watertight integrity of the vessel is satisfactory
• potential or current owners should consider the likely cost of salvage and pollution cleanup against the cost of removal and disposal / repair of old or unwanted vessels.
If a vessel sinks, the law (Section 25 of the Harbors & Navigation Act) states owners are responsible for the removal of the wreck and pollution cleanup costs, which can be substantial.
Lack of insurance cover on the vessel does not absolve the owner or any responsibility.