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MS Oliva Disaster - Lifeboat

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MS Oliva Lifeboat found 99 weeks after being lost
Start from the beginning or go straight to the Latest News Bulletin
showing how Kingston National Trust in South Australia have taken ownership of the vessel
as an exhibit alongside Cape Jaffa Lighthouse

Images of MS Oliva after running aground at Spinners Point on Nightingale Island on 16th March 2011

Press Release from the Government of South Australia's
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)
14th February 2013

Insurers of the Oliva life raft beached at Salt Creek have been served with a Removal Order by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI). The epic journey of the life raft will continue shortly with the insurers of the Maltese bulk carrier MS Oliva served with the order for removal within 14 days earlier this week.

The life raft beached near Salt Creek on the Coorong earlier this month after coming adrift when the carrier ran aground off Nightingale Island, Tristan Da Cunha, in March 2011.

DPTI Manager Marine Services Joe Rositano said the environmentally sensitive and isolated location of the life raft within the Coorong National Park means recovering the 7 metre long vessel is no easy task.

'There are only two options for removal at this location, either by sea, or by mounting it and driving approximately 30kms along the beach to Tea Tree Crossing,' he said.

'We understand the insurers have authorised local contractors to remove the vessel and, pending approval from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the second option is most likely'.

The life raft will be inspected by officers from Biosecurity SA tomorrow ahead of its removal.

'The insurers have indicated they are comfortable with the life raft remaining in the South East. That is a matter for the insurers and they are dealing directly with parties who have expressed their interest,' Mr Rositano said.

We thank DPTI Media manager Sam Rodrigues for keeping us up to date.

Oliva Lifeboat
Update from Sam Rodrigues on 11th February

Marine Safety Officers from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will travel to Salt Creek this week to check on the Oliva life raft following strong winds over the weekend to ensure it remains securely beached.

DPTI has made contact with the insurers who have indicated they will recover the life raft. Given the isolated location of the life raft, it is expected this will take time.

Photo Courtesy of Australian Channel 7

Sam Rodrigues represents the
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)
based in Adelaide, South Australia.

Oliva Lifeboat
Report from Sam Rodrigues on 8th February

Sam Rodrigues from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) in Adelaide, South Australia has contacted us and sent this image of what she describes as the MS Oliva life raft on the beach near Salt Creek South Australia taken on 7th February. Sam reported that the DPTI was awaiting contact with the Oliva’s owners / insurers before proceeding with any action.

Sam intends to send further images and reports of the salvage operation over the next few days so watch this space!

We are again grateful for liaison assistance from Steve Reardon from Adelaide who has been in touch with the DPTI in respect of keeping us in touch with further developments as we continue to chronicle the ‘Oliva Wreck Saga’ as it enters a new and unexpected episode.

MS Oliva Lifeboat washed up in Australia

Images of
MS Oliva's

with thanks
to ABC News


ABC News in Australia reported on 6th February 2013 that the lifeboat from the wrecked bulk carrier MS Oliva was washed up on a beach in South Australia.

The lifeboat was found by Nick Balmer when he went fishing and reported that it was in good condition after its long journey.

"The seats inside are torn up so, you know, the chances are it's probably been sitting on other beaches around the world maybe, you know, and people have sort of trashed it inside a bit," he said.

"The lifejacket was out on the beach down the Coorong there so we're not the first person to find it."

The South Australian Transport Department were at first unsure what to do with the 6.8-metre lifeboat.

Official Joe Rositano said departmental staff were travelling to the beach near Salt Creek and planned to ensure the boat could not wash back out to sea.

"What we're going to make sure is that it actually doesn't become a navigation hazard again," he said.

"What we're going to look at doing is perhaps anchoring it initially because the thing weighs, without the water in it it's a couple of tonnes, so it's not an easy thing to move."

Text and images from the ABC Website :
also with thanks to Steve Reardon from Adelaide, South Australia for alerting us to this news.

We will aim to keep this news page updated

How the Oliva Lifeboat was lost

Website visitors can search other Oliva pages (see links below) which chronicle the MS Oliva wreck and its aftermath in detail. It was not until the Maltese Government's Marine Safety Report was published that the details of what happened to the lifeboat (now discovered on a beach in South Australia) were known.

The following is an extract from the article on the safety report in the February 2013 Tristan da Cunha Newsletter:

.... at first light (on 16th March 2011) the master instructed the crew to don life jackets, and launch their lifeboat. This was done and the lifeboat secured alongside. In the event 12 crew members were transferred to MV Edinburgh by the fishing vessel’s boat.

The following night in deteriorating sea and wind conditions the master decided to evacuate the rest of the crew to MV Edinburgh, but this was not possible and at about 02.00 on 17th March the lifeboat painters parted and the boat drifted away.

So we now know that the arrival of the cruise ship MV Prince Albert II at Nightingale Island on 17th March to facilitate the rescue of the ten remaining crew was even more significant as Oliva had by that time no lifeboat.

How did it get there? Many theories but no facts!

South Australia is about 12,000 kms from Nightingale Island.

There is speculation that the lifeboat may have been beached previously as there is apparent evidence of human damage.
Certainly a buoyant vessel like this lifeboat would have taken far less that 99 weeks to drift directly to South Australia on the prevailing currents.

Yet a study of these prevailing currents show that, having drifted south of the Cape of Good Hope, it would be likely that the lifeboat would have drifted southwards, before either heading towards Southern Australia, or being sucked into the anti-clockwise current circulation in the Southern Indian Ocean. Theoretically it could have floated around this system more than once.

Others may argue that, like the Wandering Albatrosses, the lifeboat may have tracked further south, and continued beyond the south of New Zealand, into the Pacific, following an almost continuous easterly drift of ocean currents around the Southern Ocean, eventually passing Cape Horn, back into the Atlantic, passing South of the Cape of Good Hope again...and hence to South Australia.

Any other ideas?

Those really interested should start by linking to the ABC website above and hear the interview with the man who found it : - you'll enjoy the story!

  The full story of how the Kingston community salvaged and aim to conserve the MS Oliva Lifeboat
Local initiative leads to Kingston National Trust taking ownership of the lifeboat from insurers and meeting costs of salvage
Report from Lynton McInness, Kingston South Australia

When the Oliva Lifeboat came ashore on the Coorong Beach the hull below the waterline was completely covered with barnacles about 200mm long, and the hull had a large amount of water inside causing the Life Boat to list to Starboard.

Robin Gericke phoned me to see what I thought of the idea to retrieve the “Oliva” life boat from the Coorong beach for the Kingston SE Museum and to be placed adjacent to the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse. I thought it would be a great project so from then I was also involved.

David Gericke, Robin’s nephew was involved in the task of getting the approval from the Department of Transport who contacted the insurance company who were then the legal owner of the “Oliva” Lifeboat, this involved many emails back and forth and confirmation that the Kingston National Trust would accept the Lifeboat to be located adjacent the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse. Frank England, Ann Garvie and Daryl Morley also helped in Kingston receiving the Oliva Life Boat.

As parts were being removed from the Life Boat we were keen to retrieve it ASAP. The door, front hatch cover, electrical instruments, life jackets, steering wheel had been broken off, the propeller had been cut off with a hacksaw, plus many other items broken or removed.

Also the insurance company wanted to know what we would charge them for removing the Lifeboat from the Coorong Beach. Robin and I decided as community project we would retrieve the Lifeboat at our own expense as it would help in the insurance company accepting our proposition.

Photos David Gericke and Lynton McInness showing the lifeboat
and below nine more images
of the vessel being removed and
stored in Kingston

I had the job of arranging a large suitable 4 wheel drive tractor in case we got stuck in the very loose beach sand, I contacted Mick Brennan at Millicent he offered me a 300hp 4wheel drive Versatile tractor but distance was a problem. Then Kevin Geue offered his 4 wheel drive with dual tyres.

I explained to John Clarke of our intentions of retrieving the Life Boat as we discussed various options we decided that 2 front wheel assist front end loaders would be the best option we then contacted Rob Villis who gladly offered his front wheel assist front wheel loader.

On Thursday David Gericke received approval from Transport SA that he was now the legal owner of the Life Boat, Friday morning Robin Gericke and I flew down in a Cessna 172 to check out the life boat and plan the recovery access across the sand hills.

Friday afternoon Robin with his Chamberlain 2 wheel drive tractor and fuel trailer and my Chamberlain 2 wheel drive tractor and 6 wheel boat trailer drove to Will Robertson opposite the 42 mile crossing, early Saturday morning John Clarke transported his FEL tractor and Rob Villis FEL tractor to Will Robertson’s property for our 6:30 AM start. The retrieval team Robin Gericke, David Gericke, Lynton McInness, John Clarke, Rob Villis, Arnold Thorpe, Jim Mills, George Price and Ron Redman.

Our convoy of 4 tractors, 1 boat trailer, 1 tandem trailer with emergency equipment compressor, welder, towing straps etc. and 4wheel drive vehicles headed across the 42 mile crossing onto the beach for the 47 km. trip along the soft sandy beach. The first 25 km was very slow and rough travelling, 3 4 wheel drive went ahead and started cleaning the barnacles off the starboard side, about 10km from the Life Boat we were met by the Channel 7 Helicopter which flew alongside us filming the tractor convoy, then landed on the beach near the Life Boat and the cameraman filmed us cleaning the hull of large barnacles about 200mm long.

Preparation for loading included removing the barnacles then collecting then in large bags for disposal, pumping the water out of the hull being very careful not to pump any diesel onto the beach as we were consistently being filmed, we drilled a ½ inch hole in the hull to help drain the water but that soon blocked up.

Once we had 1 side cleaned we tilted the hull over to remove and collect the barnacles on the port side, then Rob hooked onto the bow and towed the boat around ready for loading, with the 2 front end loaders either side the Oliva life boat was lifted up ready to back the trailer under then lowered onto the trailer and secured with load binding straps.

Ron Redman was photographing the retrieval until he got unwell and the satellite phone from the helicopter crew was used to call the Ambulance Ron was taken back along the beach in a 4 wheel drive vehicle to meet the ambulance at the Tee Tree crossing then taken to Meningie Hospital and made a quick recovery the weather was quite warm and sultry on the beach.

Cleaning the outside of the “Oliva” Life Boat of barnacles and loading was achieved in 1 ½ hours due to planning and great team work.

I then unhooked my tractor from the boat trailer for Rob Villis to tow, the first 10 km was good going before we struck the soft area then we hooked John Clarke's tractor onto the front of Rob Villis’s with a 30 tonne snatch strap to avoid getting bogged, prior to leaving Kingston I put load binding chains around the spring hangers and the trailer frame in preparation for the soft sand lucky I did as the 6 trailer wheels were up to 6 inches deep in the soft sand for about 20 km. At 1:00 PM we arrived at the Tee Tree crossing track where we cross up over the soft sand hills and onto the road, as the Wide Load Permit was issued for my Chamberlain tractor we hitched the boat trailer back onto the Chamberlain tractor for the next 75 km to Kingston arriving at 4:45 PM.

From the 42 mile crossing to the “Oliva” a distance of 47km along the beach we estimated that there were at least a 100 vehicles either fishing, camping or just driving along the beach, the “Oliva” was very popular being constantly photographed even along the Princess Highway cars would pass us then pull over to photograph the unusual load.

The seized motor has been removed and taken to David Gericke at Keith to be repaired, plans are to pressure clean the hull and paint the hull before being placed on a concrete pad alongside the Lighthouse. The Upper SE Branch of the Recreation Fisher’s Assoc has offered to build the concrete foundation. Clarke’s have offered the concrete, Tony Alma has offered a replacement propeller and machine it. Graham Usher has offered to build a ramp platform for viewing and Peter Westley has drawn up the transfer papers from David Gericke to the Kingston National Trust free of charge.

Cleaning the Life Boat has now been completed with high pressure cleaners, even with a 3500psi pressure cleaner the barnacle residue took 8 hours to remove, cleaning the inside was an unpleasant job with the decaying food ration packs residue over 50% of the inside. Now the hull has been cleaned we consider it would look more natural not to paint it.

Seating arrangements in the Life Boat were allocated and named for the captain, engineer, oiler, crew etc. Seats were on floor with seatbelts that would be essential for launching from about 10 metres high down the launching slide, 29 people crammed in the 7 metre life boat, seats on the floor with lack of leg room, no windows on the lower part of the hull, only ration packs and drinking water and no toilet would have made unpleasant accommodation.

The foundation for the “Oliva” Life Boat was constructed by members of Upper SE Recreational Fisher’s Assoc. with the concrete being donated by Clarke Bros at Kingston.

The “Oliva” Life Boat was shifted and bolted down to its permanent site adjacent to the “Cape Jaffa Lighthouse” site at Kingston SE SA on the 3/7/2013 using Robin Gericke’s crane to relocate the Life Boat. The Life Boat motor was cleaned and painted by Davo Gericke and placed inside the Lighthouse.

The credit for Kingston receiving the Oliva Life Boat must go to Robin Gericke and his nephew David Gericke.

Thanks to all involved.

We aim to publish photos of the lifeboat in its final position
and form a link between Tristan and Kingston to share information in the two museums.
If you are new to the MS Oliva Wreck story you may want to read more about the full story by following links at th bottom of this page ~ here we highlight some of the main points to whet your appetite

Through incompetence the 75,300 tonne bulk carrier MS Oliva ran aground early on 16th March 2011
The crew were rescued following help from the crews of MV Edinburgh and MV Prince Albert II on 16th and 17th March
Captain Clarence October of MV Edinburgh was awarded an honorary MBE by HM Queen Elizabeth II following this incident
MS Oliva broke up during the night of 17th / 18th March and some 1500 tonnes of fuel oil and 65,000 tonnes of soya beans leaked out
Oil slicks washed ashore on Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands threatening wildlife
3718 oiled Rockhopper Penguins were transferred to Tristan da Cunha for rehabilitation ~ unfortunately only 10% survived
The RSPB presented the community of Tristan da Cunha with their prestigious Medal in 2012 for this conservation work
Nightingale and Inaccessible fishing grounds were closed but have re-opened by 2013
A full and final insurance settlement was announced in September 2012
The Maltese Government Transport Department issued a Marine Safety Report in November 2012 explaining the causes of the wreck
The missing lifeboat was discovered in South Australia in February 2013
The August 2013 Tristan da Cunha Newsletter will carry a feature on Nightingale Island
evaluating the effects of the wreck on wildlife two years after the disaster
See also:
A diary of the first phase of the disaster up to Monday 21st March : Olivia Wreck 1
A catalogue of the clean-up operation on Nightingale and Inaccessible after 21st March: Olivia Phase II News
A page providing news and pictures of the back-up operation on the main Tristan da Cunha Island : Oliva Tristan Diary
Impact of MS Oliva Disaster on Tristan's Fishing Industry: Oliva Fishing News
A page providing a Tristan Government view of the Oliva disaster as it unfolds: Oliva Government News
Report explaining the cause of the grounding and safety lessons learned: MS Oliva Safety Report
MS Oliva Disaster Home Page and Links
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Website Home Page
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