Whilst under tow from Hartlepool to Rochester last summer the MV Ella took on water and sank off the Lowestoft coast containing a ‘hazardous substance’
The unmanned MV Ella, which took on water and sank last July, had become a danger to shipping but has now been removed from the seabed in an operation complicated by mechanical malfunctions and poor weather conditions.
After taking on water, MV Ella’s tow lines were cut and she sank around three-and-a-half miles off Lowestoft necessitating shipping safeguard charity, Trinity House, to establish a TEZ (Temporary Exclusion Zone) of 500m with emergency wreck marking buoys.
When the ship sank, 12 metal barrels with ‘hazardous substance’ labels broke free and washed up on beaches between Kessingland and Benacre on the Suffolk coast. This sparked an emergency response to be launched, only for the barrels to turn out to be empty.
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The sheerleg crane vessel, Cormorant, was brought in to raise the wreck and made an initial attempt at lifting MV Ella on Thursday, 9 November. This attempt was scuppered by one of the lifting slings becoming detached from the hull leaving the salvage team with no choice but to return the wreck to the seabed.
Thereafter, deteriorating weather and worsening sea conditions meant all vessels had to return to Lowestoft until the following Saturday by which time conditions had become stable enough for a hydrographic survey to be made of the wreck site.
The survey determined that the wreck had now come to rest deeper in the sand than before meaning a larger salvage grab was required to be fitted onboard the Cormorant.
Once this new grab was in operation, the MV Ella was raised to the surface on Wednesday 15 November and a safe transfer in to Lowestoft port was achieved by the following Friday.
The wreck is no longer a danger zone for ships which can now use the route safely.