Gov't Opens Bid to Raise Sunken Ferry

      May 22, 2015 10:31

      The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries is announcing a bid Friday for contractors for the massive task of raising the ferry that sank off the southwestern coast in April last year.

      Bidding is open for a month before a final candidate is selected by July. The salvage operation is to start in September.

      One challenge is to raise the vessel in one piece and without cutting it into sections in order to ensure that the bodies of the nine missing victims are not damaged.

      Some 80 percent of the evaluation will be based on the level of technology bidders possess, and only the remaining 20 percent to their price.

      The ministry will also assess if the bidder is capable of safely removing 200 kl of oil from the surface of the ocean, in order to prevent potential spill damage.

      Raising a 6,825-ton vessel from more than 40 m under the surface is unprecedented. Around two dozen domestic and foreign vessel salvage companies are apparently interested in bidding. Domestic salvage companies excel at diving skills but lag behind their foreign rivals in terms of technology.

      The ministry plans to give preference to consortiums of Korean and foreign vessel salvaging companies. Potential bidders include SMIT of the Netherlands, which handled the salvage of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia and a Russian sub, and U.S.-based Titan, which salvages container and cargo vessels, as well as companies from the China, Denmark and the U.K.

      If the salvage operation progresses smoothly, the total cost is estimated at between W100 billion to W120 billion (US$1=W1,094). But considering the rapid currents in the area where the ferry sank, it may take more than a year to complete.

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