It is going to be a whale of an effort to salvage a ship that sank off the south of Penang island.

Along with barges and cranes, the ship’s owner has to give the state Marine Department a bank guarantee of RM1.5mil to cover clean-up costs if the salvaging works were to cause further pollution.

The salvaging cost alone is expected to run up to RM1mil.

Operations to salvage the vessel started on Friday.

The waters around the site was cordoned off to prevent onlookers from getting too near the salvaging operations.

Northern Region Marine De­­part­ment director Capt Abdul Samad Shaik Osman said his team would be keeping a close eye on bringing up the 40-tonne ship.

The vessel is 43m in total length.

The ship, Xin Yi Yi, struck the remains of a shipwreck nicknamed Kapal Simen at 5.30am on July 26 just as it arrived from Hong Kong.

It was on a routine trip, taking about 30 tonnes of live fish back to Hong Kong.

The sea depth where it sank is so shallow that half of the ship, lying on its side, is visible above the surface.

The ship’s crew of five were saved by local fishermen.

The ship’s local agent, S. Elumalai, said the owners be­­lieved it could be salvaged within two weeks.

“The contractors conducted a preliminary survey and are confident it can be done in 14 days,” said Elumalai.

He added that major equipment, including a vessel to tow Xin Yi Yi away after it had been righted, would be brought to the site.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said it was not informed of the salva­ging operations.

“Although the Marine Depart­ment approved the works, we should also be informed.

“What if there is another oil spill when they are bringing it to the surface?” asked Phee.

On the morning when Xin Yi Yi sank, it released thousands of litres of motor gas oil, a refined ship fuel, and engine oil into the sea….


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14 days are all it will take to salvage ship
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