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Posted by portugalpress on August 06, 2018

The faintly ridiculous saga of the ‘sunken dredger’ in Ria Formosa should be brought to a close, finally, with the help of Chinese balloons.

According to Olhão’s ports commander Nunes Ferreira the delicate operation should take place next month - when the hustle and bustle of August is behind us.

Until then, the 400-ton wreck will remain dangerously close to the surface, posing an ongoing threat to passing boats (despite being flagged by a warning buoy and mentioned in various ‘shipping bulletins’).

The dredger turned turtle seven months ago doing sand-clearing work that fishermen and islanders have been calling for for years.

Contracted by Sociedade Polis da Ria Formosa, the boat started leaking fuel into the water.

Its crew of four had to be rescued from the sea, all showing signs of hypothermia.

And at the time, official word was that the boat’s owners had “48-hours to solve the issue”

Since then the hull of the 80m long craft has broken in three places and stayed exactly where it is. Previous efforts at salvage have failed, and it is now good for nothing but scrap.

The idea of the Chinese balloons is to work them them under the damaged dredger and then inflate, and ‘hey presto’ the creaking hulk should break the surface and suddenly become a manageable salvage operation.

Why Chinese? According to reports, these are the most resistant balloons of their type on the market.

Before removal, the dredger is to be stripped of tubing, pipes and other material, to make it as light as possible.

Once ‘up and floating’, the owning company will have responsibility of removing it for scrap.

There is still no information as to where the broken boat will be taken.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Photo: Autoridade Marítima Nacional

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