A major incident was narrowly avoided following an early morning collision between two trawlers off the island of Senja in the Arctic north of Norway this month. The 68-metre purse seiner Hundvåkøy was returning to port with a 1500 ton catch of capelin when it was in collision with the Hordafor 4 and sustained major hull damage.
The engine room flooded but the master successfully grounded his family-owned and operated boat to prevent the total loss of the vessel and its cargo.
A prompt inspection by the Norwegian Coastal Administration resulted in a decision to patch the large hole in the hull with a Miko plaster. Both of the Coastal Administration vessels attending the incident; the North Crusader and theHarstad, were carrying a Miko Salvage Kit from which it was possible to select a six by two metre “hat-shaped” patch and, within six hours, have it secured on the hull to cover the hole. As a result virtually all of the catch was saved and transferred to other boats and the engine room was pumped dry. This enabled the Hundvåkøy to be refloated and towed some 15 nm to the NATO quay at Sørreisa for more permanent repairs.
Salvage experts attending the incident believe that without the patch the trawler would almost certainly have capsized and sunk. This would have resulted in a costly recovery operation and a risk of pollution in a sensitive Arctic region.
The patch chosen for the repair was manufactured from a high strength fabric that combines polyester reinforced PVC with aramid. It is described as “hat-shaped” due to its design as a shallow bag with a brim that is held securely against the hull beneath flexible aluminium strips that are fixed by divers using an HD 200 underwater stapling tool. The bag-like capacity of the patch enables it to cover any irregular tearing of the hull while the brim ensures a strong and watertight seal.
The patch was fitted by local divers from Finnsnes Dykk og Anleggsservice, with the aid of the Coastguard and supervision from Claus Christian Aspeneth of Miko Marine. He had flown to the incident from the company’s headquarters in Oslo and was able to ensure that the operation was a success. Speaking after the event he said; ”This is the second occasion within a year when patches have prevented the loss of a Norwegian fishing boat and its cargo. It is to the credit of the Coastal Administration that its boats are equipped with Miko Salvage Kits as they can make patches quickly available and turn a potential disaster into little more than a technical inconvenience,” he said. ”We naturally hope that more administrations will recognise the benefit of carrying our Salvage Kits but we also believe that, as the principal beneficiaries, ship and boat owners should be encouraging this as well.”