Svitzer in bid to raise Korean ferry Sewol

South Korean passenger ferry Sewol, which sank suddenly in April 2014, resulting in the death of more than 300 people, will now be raised. The tender begins today for the contract, which is worth an estimated USD 90 million. Svitzer will make a bid, the company tells ShippingWatch.

The aftermath in South Korea's worst ship disaster ever will move to the next stage today, Friday, when the country's authorities opens up for bids on the contract to raise passenger ferry Sewol. The ferry sank on April 16th last year on the route between Incheon, on the mainland, and the island Jeju. More than 300 passengers were killed in the accident.

Several European salvors have already been involved in the process and have presented concept studies to the South Korean authorities outlining the process of raising the ship, and there is little doubt that the contract is sought after, with a value of more than USD 90 million, sources tell ShippingWatch. As such, numerous European salvage companies are looking to land the contract.

Svitzer in large-scale merger with US-based Crowley 

These include the salvage division of Maersk's salvage and rescue carrier Svitzer, which joined forces with US-based Titan Salvage in April to create the world's largest salvor under the name Ardent, CEO Peter Pietka confirms to ShippingWatch.

Experienced partner

Following the merger with the Crowley group's Titan Salvage, Svitzer has joined forces with an experienced partner, a factor that could prove decisive when the authorities pick a winner for the contract. Titan Salvage is perhaps best known for raising Costa Concordia, the large cruise ship that ran ashore off the coast of Italy in 2012, an accident that resulted in limited casualties compared to the Sewol disaster.

Dutch Smit is the closest competitor to Ardent and is also mentioned as a candidate for the job. The contract is expected completed i July, and the comprehensive process is projected to take 12-18 months, according to estimates.

Ardent CEO: We'll be the biggest salvor in the world

According to The Guardian, Sewol captain Lee Joon-seok has been given a lifetime sentence, while crew members have been given between 18 months and 12 years in jail. South Korea's president, Park Geun-hye, has previously stated that the captain and some of the crew members committed "unforgivable and murderous actions," and the criticism has centered on matters such as the captain misinforming the passengers as well as abandoning them.

The salvage market has been under pressure in recent years and is undergoing major changes - changes that can be somewhat illustrated with the raising of Costa Concordia. A colossal job, but not a job that comes along very often in the industry. And this characterizes the market in general, as there are fewer salvage contracts to bid on, though the ones that do emerge are often massive, such as the Sewol ferry contract now in tender.

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