1. The Ella Project - Survey
The survey work conducted by the vessel Aquitaine Explorer (63 metre survey vessel, normally on long term charter to the French MOD) was conducted between 1st and 31st August 2005. The project was hindered by severe and unusual weather conditions that caused a considerable reduction in the number of available working days. In addition equipment failures on rented items and a vessel breakdown caused further delay. Despite these issues the SubSea team were able to survey an area of over 500 square miles locating not just Ella but several other targets both known and not known to the Company. Some of these targets will be the subject of future investigations.
Operations Director, John Kingsford, said:
"The main purpose of our survey work was of course to locate Ella, but the team achieved much more than just a single site survey and we are all extremely pleased at the way the various problems were handled. The team and the Company are now far better placed to move on to the recovery of Ella and our other projects."
2. The Ella Project - Recovery
The survey team did not have sufficient time to start recovery work and the recovery project should now begin as soon as the Company's survey and salvage vessel John Lethbridge becomes available.
As expected a large amount of fishing nets and other debris were found in association with the wreck. The recovery work will include the removal of netting, overburden, sand and etc. from the cargo stowage area. This work is not complicated, and is well within the capability of John Lethbridge, but will take several weeks to complete.
John Lethbridge should be available to start this work during October 2005, however, in the event that the Company is unable to complete the recovery during the 2005 season work will re-commence early in the 2006 season in conjunction with other activities. The Company plans to be conducting survey work in the general area of the Ella project throughout the 2006 season, in particular on the Miranda Project (a cargo of nickel with a gross value of over US$ 40 million).
3. Vessel Progress Report
The Company's survey and salvage vessel John Lethbridge is expected to leave dry dock in Falmouth on 16th September 2005. As previously reported the refurbishment programme incurred some scheduled delays due to the removal of a redundant boiler. A number of additional but minor matters were added to the refurbishment programme on the advice of the local Lloyds surveyor, some new electrical works that had not been planned and the replacement of some internal bulkheads. These additional works are expected to be concluded in Falmouth immediately after leaving the dry dock.
As previously announced the refurbishment work includes a significant upgrade to the vessels working capability. The survey system has been massively improved, as has the salvage system and these works have added to the complexity of the refurbishment programme.
The Company's vessel supervisor Steve Sargison commented:
"As the completion date approaches there are certain to be other small problems but these are not likely to impose any significant delays. The SubSea marine crew and the A&P team are all working very hard to deliver a state of the art survey vessel, both within an acceptable timeframe and within budget."
Source: SubSea Resources PLC