Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:05 UK

Napoli salvage is declared over

MSC Napoli: Pic Roger Sharp
The estimated cost of the total salvage operation is thought to be about 50m

An operation to salvage a cargo ship which was deliberately grounded off the Devon coast has been officially declared as completed.

The MSC Napoli was beached off Branscombe in January 2007 after being storm damaged in the English Channel.

The Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) said work had taken 924 days.

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

Damage prevention

The 62,000-tonne vessel was en-route from Antwerp to South Africa when its hull was cracked during a storm off the Lizard. Its crew had to be airlifted to safety by Royal Navy helicopters.

It was being taken to Portland in Dorset when the decision was taken to deliberately ground the vessel to try to prevent pollution damage to the world heritage Jurassic coast.

Thousands of scavengers flocked to Branscombe beach when containers from the stricken Napoli washed ashore.

BMW motorbikes, pet food, anti-wrinkle cream, wine barrels and nappies were among the goods taken from the beach.

Branscombe, January 2007
People flocked to Branscombe when containers washed ashore

The salvage operation, which cost an estimated £50m, was carried out in several phases, including removing fuel oil, then the cargo, and the wreck itself.

Most of the vessel was broken up using explosive charges before being cut up and taken away by Dutch salvage company Global Response Maritime.

A survey of the seabed was carried out to clearly demonstrate that there was no further risk to safety or risk of pollution from hazardous substances, the Maritime and Coastuard Agency said.

The SOSREP, Hugh Shaw, said he officially declared an end to the salvage and wreck removal operations on Wednesday 29 July.

He said: "I am delighted that together we have all brought this incident to a successful conclusion.

"Every effort has been made to protect the environment throughout this operation."

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