Update April 3:
Operations for the salvage of the vessel Elsa are still proceeding. While the ocean conditions did slow the process down, the salvage company continued to work when the swell permitted. Since the operation began, various goals have been accomplished, the most significant of these goals being the removal of the remaining fuel from the tanks. Now that the landing craft has returned, the remainder of the fuel laden items will be removed from the vessel. Representatives of both the owners of the vessel and the insurance companies are on island, overseeing the salvage process.
Before further steps can be taken, an environmental assessment is being done on all options to ensure that that the removal of the vessel has minimal impact on the surrounding environment. Careful consideration must be done for every available option. These assessments and the unpredictable ocean conditions may result in a lengthier process, but this removal must be done in a manner that is safe for both the workers engaged in the process and the surrounding marine environment. The Saba Conservation Foundation and the Public Entity Saba are fully engaged in the process in order to remain informed of the progress made and the next prospective steps.
Update April 1:
On Thursday morning a ground swell began to come in, which hindered salvage operations of the vessel Elsa. Anticipating ocean conditions to worsen over the upcoming days, the salvage company Resolve spent Thursday preparing the vessel for the increasing swell. Because of the deteriorating ocean conditions, activity surrounding salvage operations will temporarily slow down. The vessel and ocean conditions were being monitored on Friday and will continue to be monitored throughout the weekend. As soon as conditions permit, the situation will be reassessed and operations will resume at full capacity.
An update on the salvage operations will be given after an assessment and resulting plan has been made.
Update March 30:
The Salvage company, Resolve, worked Tuesday night and Wednesday to pump out the remaining fuel. At the end of Wednesday, they informed the Public Entity that all fuel in the tanks of the vessel has been pumped. Next priority will be to remove any fuel laden items from the vessel. In addition, all local and international parties are working together to refloat the vessel before ocean conditions change. We are currently being updated on the situation on an hourly basis.
Wednesday morning, an independent environmental expert arrived on Saba. He made a first assessment regarding the leaked fuel and the surrounding environment. At the moment, the damage seems to be minimal.
Investigations on the cause are still ongoing and may take a while to be conclusive.
Update March 27:
Start of Motor Yacht Salvage
Since last Thursday, the owners of the vessel Elsa, in cooperation with the Public Entity Saba and the Saba Conservation Foundation, have been working on a plan to salvage the yacht with minimal damage to the surrounding environment and the vessel. Today, March 27, 2017, personnel and equipment will arrive to begin work on the salvage tomorrow. First priority will be to safely remove the fuel from the vessel, followed by the extraction of the yacht from the shore. Several experts are on the island to advise on the technical and logistical aspects of the salvage.
The Public Entity Saba would like to advise that persons without express written permission are not allowed to board the vessel Elsa or to remove anything from the yacht. The yacht is being monitored and trespassers will be caught.
We will continue to update the public as progress is made with the salvage.
On Wednesday evening a second vessel ran ashore at Ladder Bay in Saba during this year’s yachting season. All passengers and crew were safely transported to the harbor and nobody got injured.
These unfortunate incidents are rare, as many efforts have been made over the past years to improve the resilience of the mooring systems in the Saba Marine Park.
As first priority, everything is being done now to minimize damage to the surrounding marine and nearshore environment.
Although the causes of the unrelated accidents are still under investigation, measures will be taken immediately to minimize risk to mariners in Saba’s designated anchorages. All moorings will be re-inspected to affirm their stability and to quickly spot and exchange damaged lines, as vessels may unintentionally run over them in choppy waters, which may not be noticed by skippers. Furthermore, additional patrols by the Marine Park Rangers will be scheduled, to assist arriving yachters and to ensure that their boats are safely secured to the moorings. Also, new communication materials will be produced to inform yachters about proper mooring procedures and precautionary provisions in advance.
An independent review of the current mooring systems will be conducted to confirm their suitability for open-water conditions and make recommendations for possible improvements, if necessary.
Currently, in cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, a new Harbor Master Plan is being formulated. This master plan includes research into methods of improving the harbor facilities and anchorages. The aim of the plan is to further professionalize Fort Bay Harbor and to increase Saba’s attractiveness to the yachting sector. Continued efforts will be made to have a VHF repeater installed, which will improve communication within the mooring zones for additional safety and quick response.
Inspection should be regular, logged and documented with photos and/or video. This is a liability for the marine park and the island. Sad that action to be taken needed is a reaction to the unfortunate events.
I was disappointed to see a large area of diesel sheen emanating from Elsa this afternoon (Saturday 3/25, 3:30PM) when I walked down The Ladder to have look at her condition. I was told by someone involved with her salvage that the diesel leak had been resolved; that’s hardly the case. It’s unacceptable that, after several days, there aren’t oil containment booms surrounding this vessel. I don’t think “everything is being done to minimize damage” as suggested by this article.
The article also suggests that mariners might not be following proper procedures to ensure the safety of their own vessels. As an owner of a sailing vessel, who has sailed many places around the world, including the Caribbean as well as Saba, I am very wary of moorings, especially those who use line instead of all chain, a practice that I believe is used here in Saba. I much prefer to use my own tackle, but that really isn’t an option here in Saba; as a result we have to rely on the Harbor Master for our safely while moored here.
These aren’t the first instances of mooring failures here in Saba…
Was the grounded vessel ever removed?
What is the current status?
We were on Saba last month, saw (and smelled) the ship and oil leaks from ladder bay.
Really curious if the vessel has been removed or if its still there.