Mammoet awarded submarine salvage contract

By Alex Dahm12 November 2008

The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) has awarded Mammoet Salvage B.V. the contract to salvage a Second World War submarine and deal with its toxic cargo.

Submarine U-864 and its cargo of 67 tonnes of mercury lies off the coast of Norway. Two options have been proposed to deal with the environmental hazard. One is to recover the wreck and remove the pollutants from the marine environment. The other is to encase the wreck and cover the seabed to prevent the spread of the pollution. The Norwegian government will decide which approach to take.

On 9 February 1945, the German U-boat U-864 was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS Venturer. U-864 sank about two nautical miles west of the island Fedje, north of Bergen, with the loss of all 73 on board. The submarine's cargo included about 67 tonnes of toxic metallic mercury. U-864 was on a mission so it was also carrying a full load of weapons. The vessel is considered to constitute a potential threat to human health and the environment.

Mammoet said it has proposed a method to raise the wreck which satisfies the environmental requirements. Using a remotely controlled system Mammoet would raise the submarine and take away the source of pollution without the need for people to work under water. Mammoet said it has a solution to overcome the specific challenge of lifting the wreck from the unstable seabed. If this method is chosen the salvage is likely to be done in 2010.

Mammoet Salvage B.V. and Mammoet Norge AS are part of Netherlands-based international heavy transport and lifting specialist Mammoet Holding B.V. It was responsible for the salvage of the Kursk Russian nuclear submarine in 2001.

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