Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 19:47 UK

Napoli salvage work back on track

Giant barges with chains
Giant chains and hoists are being used to lift the stern

The salvage operation to remove the final section of the wrecked container ship MSC Napoli has got under way.

Salvors working to raise the remains of the stern from the sea bed off the Devon coast have laid new chains under the hull to help them lift it.

The Napoli was deliberately grounded in January 2007 after her hull was damaged in a storm when she was was en-route from Antwerp to South Africa.

Most of the ship, broken up using explosives, has already been salvaged.

However, salvors are attempting to bring the remainder of the stern, including the ship's 1,400-tonne engine, to the surface by August so it can be scrapped.

Work was halted at the weekend because the wreckage had become stuck in clay.

Seabed survey

A number of lifting chains had to be replaced as the chalky mud upon which the hull lies is extremely heavy and dense and was fouling the chain links, preventing free movement.

An exclusion area will remain around the wreck until the £50m salvage is finished.

Hugh Shaw, Secretary of States Representative in Maritime Salvage and Intervention, said studies had indicated there was no threat of pollution from the salvage work being carried out.

"I am very encouraged that given the clear water we've seen around the vessel and from underwater video footage obtained by divers suggest that there is no threat of pollution during the cutting and lifting phase," he added.

Once all the wreckage has been removed, a final survey of the seabed will be undertaken and the project will then be signed off.

Thousands of scavengers flocked to Devon when about 50 of the stricken ship's 2,400 containers washed ashore at Branscombe beach.

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