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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Warship prepares to head home
HMS Nottingham and The Swan
It took 10 hours to lift the ship onto the Swan
The Royal Navy warship HMS Nottingham, which ran into rocks off Australia's east coast, is preparing to return home.

The crippled destroyer was lifted onto a recovery ship in Sydney Harbour on Tuesday in a 10-hour operation.

The salvage and six-week journey back to the UK will cost an estimated 10m to 11m.

HMS Nottingham nearly sank when she tore open her hull on a well-charted rock in the Tasman Sea on 7 July.

The ship is due to begin its journey back to the UK on Sunday scheduled to reach British shores by 12 December, weather permitting.

The Warship Support Agency spokesman Laurie Manton told BBC News Online the salvage operation had been "remarkable".

"When you think about how a large warship was successfully lifted onto another ship it is quite impressive. The operation has generated interest world-wide."

The operation involved the crew of the recovery ship, the MV Swan, pumping tons of water into its ballast tanks to sink its bulk beneath the waterline.

Tugs then nudged the Nottingham over a cradle mounted on the Swan's submerged deck.


Water was then slowly pumped out of the Swan's tanks, forcing the ship to rise with the 3,560 tonne destroyer on its back.

Steel supports will be welded between the warship and the recovery vessel before HMS Nottingham begins it piggyback home.

HMS Nottingham
The journey home will cost 10m
A total of 253 crew were on board during the incident in July near Lord Howe Island, when water flooded five compartments of the ship.

It is believed to be the first time a vessel has run aground at the spot since the British whaler The Wolf about 200 years ago.

HMS Nottingham arrived in Sydney harbour last week after her ammunition had been offloaded and structural repairs carried out at the port of Newcastle, north of Sydney.


Mr Manton said a decision on whether the ship could be repaired should be made by the time of her return to the UK.

Three royal dockyards - at Portsmouth, Plymouth or at Rosyth in Fife - will prepare bids for the work.

A total of 14 crew members will join HMS Nottingham for the journey back to the UK.

On-board ammunition has already been removed from the 3,500-tonne vessel after she was towed to Newcastle in August, for emergency repairs.

A board of inquiry has been examining how the ship ran aground but officials have stressed no decision had been made yet on whether to discipline the captain, Commander Richard Farrington.

The 22,788 ton (22,429 tonne) Swan is capable of carrying up to 25,000 tons (24,606 tonnes) of cargo on its deck, which measures 416ft by 103ft (126.8 by 31.6 metres.

It is owned by the Dutch heavy transport shipping company Dockwise.

The BBC's Michael Peschardt
"For the first time the full extent of the damage has been revealed"

Click here to go to Nottingham

A 10-hour salvage operation sees the damaged British warship HMS Nottingham lifted on board a recovery ship at Australia's Sydney HarbourShipping moves
Images of warship salvage operation
See also:

19 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
15 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
07 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
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