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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 13:15 GMT
Final Napoli removal work starts
Picture courtesy of Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Industrial cutting shears are used to dismantle the stern
Work has started on removing the stern of the wrecked MSC Napoli off the east Devon coast.

It is the final phase of the operation to remove the ship, which was grounded in Lyme Bay in January.

The 62,000 tonne vessel was stripped of its 2,300 containers before being split in half in July. The bow section was floated to Northern Ireland.

About 4,000 tonnes of metal will be cut from the stern over the next 20 days by a French specialist cutting crane.

Weight reduced

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesperson says the weight of the stern needs to be reduced so it can be lifted on to a barge and taken away for recycling.

"The cutting crane is now on board and they will start cutting pieces out of the accommodation block today," she said.

"The scrap metal will be kept on board and removed in about 10 days' time."

Rescue of MSC Napoli crew
Crew members were airlifted to safety by an Royal Navy helicopter

The work will also remove the engine and steel decks. The second stage of the work, lifting the shell of the stern on to a barge, is expected to start in March and take about 12 days.

The Napoli's crew was rescued in January after it was damaged in storms en route from Antwerp to South Africa.

The vessel was being towed to Portland, Dorset, when it was decided to ground her off Branscombe amid fears she could sink.

About 100 containers went overboard and 58 were washed ashore, leading to a scavenging and looting spree.

The salvage operation has cost more than 50m.

Salvors hope it will finally be taken away in spring 2008


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