Liberia: Sunken Merchant Vessel Raised from Monrovia Freeport

The container ship Torm Alexandra in Monrovia port after being raised from the ocean floor earlier this week.
7 May 2009

Monrovia — The merchant ship Torm Alexandra is again afloat in Monrovia Freeport after a lengthy and complicated salvage operation in the Liberian capital.

The ship capsized and sunk on July 25, 2001 after local stevedores, who had little experience with large cargoes, mishandled the ship's two cranes they were using to offload containers. The containers slid towards the port side of the vessel, causing it to heel.

The ship sank with all its cargo in about half an hour, according to an account from the owner, the Danish company Fabricius Marine.

Removal of the wreckage, which has been blocking one of four berths in the main wharf, will add significantly to the Freeport's operational capacity.

The salvage operation was carried out by Buchanan Renewables, a Geneva-based company which is building a 35-megawatt power plant to provide electricity to the capital and surrounding area. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government agency, is providing U.S. $112 million in financing for the project.

The plant will be fueled with wood chips from Liberian rubber trees that are beyond their productive life.

The sunken cargo disappeared a long time ago. The ship will be demolished and sold for scrap.

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