Onlookers watch as the rescue team begins to remove fuel from the yacht on Sunday / IDEAL

Operation to remove stranded megayacht is under way

The vessel is likely to be auctioned or scrapped, depending on its state once it has been salvaged from the sea as neither the owner nor the insurance company are willing to pay out for the operation

IDEAL

The removal of the 'Sk Yacht' megayacht, stranded off Carchuna beach in Motril (Granada province) since Wednesday, got under way on Sunday morning. A team of 13 people from Salvamento Marítimo based in Cartagena (Murcia) is responsible for the task of removing the 67-tonne vessel.

The work will be carried out in several steps and it is expected to go on throughout this week, with the first priority being to remove the remaining fuel. The owner of the yacht stated that they were carrying up to 6,700 litres of fuel at the time of the incident.

Hoses connected to pumps were launched from the beach and with the help of specialist divers the hoses were dragged into the water and connected to the boat’s four fuel tanks, all of which are underwater.

"Water may or may not have entered the tanks. If it has, it means that the clean-up work will be complicated. If there is water mixed with the fuel, it has to be decanted so that it can be recycled," a spokesperson for the marine rescue service explained.

The second step is to clean and remove any polluting elements from the yacht including cables, batteries, oils and other items on the various decks and in the engine room.

A crane is being used to move all the material onto the sand. There are several trucks with large floats that may be used in the rescue manoeuvre, as well as cables, hoses to extract the fuel, tanks to receive it, and pumps for the extraction.

Options

Once the yacht has been cleaned, the options for how to remove it from the sea will be considered. One of them is to move it by sea to Motril harbour. "If it is deemed possible, floats, or balloons, are placed around the boat and on the seabed which act as a kind of car jack to lift the hull of the yacht,” Salvamento Marítimo said. If the boat can sail, it will be moved to Motril harbour "and from there, to land", they confirmed.

If it cannot sail, the option, according to the salvage team, is to “remove it from the place where it is stranded, a few metres from the shore, and scrap it on the sand.” They went on to explain that moving it by road would be impossible as “it won't even fit through the motorway tunnels”.

It also remains to be seen who will be responsible for the operation. As reported by this newspaper last week, at the moment neither the owner nor the insurance company are willing to pay out or take responsibility for the yacht. As such the owner has lost all rights to the vessel and it likely to be auctioned or scrapped, depending on the outcome of the salvage operation.

The yacht, valued at approximately 450,000 euros, is 22 metres in length, weighs 67 tonnes and consists of three decks. Scrapping a vessel of this type is estimated at more than 10,000 euros.

The yacht was the star of the show in Motril last weekend, as a constant stream of people visited Carchuna beach to take photos and selfies to post on social media.

Antonio, Fernando and José, three teenagers aged 14 and 15 arrived early on Saturday with their bicycles. "It's rare to see such a big boat stranded on the beach like this," they commented. Father and daughter Alfredo and Elvira also went down to the beach specifically to take a look at the boat that has taken the local press and social media by storm since Wednesday.

People went down to the beach over the weekend to take photos of the yacht / IDEAL