Christmas Island shipwreck cleared

The MV Tycoon at Flying Fish Cove 
Photo Michael Wilson

By Angela Pownall - The West Australian

Christmas Island’s beautiful Flying Fish Cove, which is the scene of one of nature’s most spectacular sights with the red crab migration, has finally been cleared of the rusting, oil-leaking shipwreck that has blocked the port for almost seven months.

Salvage experts today finished an $8.2 million taxpayer-funded operation to remove the MV Tycoon, which smashed against the cove’s jagged cliffs on January 9.

The 85m container ship broke up in big swell, leaking oil and phosphate into Flying Fish Cove’s pristine waters, and triggering fears of an environmental disaster on the island.

More than 1600 tonnes of twisted and rusted scrap metal were removed from the ocean and put onto barges to go to Indonesia to be recycled.

Toby Stone, from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said a team of 20 people used equipment to cut large pieces of metal, electromagnets to pick up smaller pieces up off the sea bed and divers who picked metal out of the cliffs.

“We have been criticised for delaying the operation. That was our intent because it was unsafe to start it during the cyclone season and we wanted to wait for good weather. It’s been proved it was the right decision,” he said.

Australian taxpayers footed the bill because the container ship’s owners would not co-operate with AMSA over its removal.

Mr Stone said AMSA would seek to recover costs from the MV Tycoon’s owners Tycoon Navigation in Singapore and their insurers, Navigators Protection and Indemnity in London.

Divers have found minimal damage to the marine environment in the cove, but it was not expected to be long-term damage, Mr Stone said.

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