How did Vanguard get Europa back on an even keel?

Europa over on its starboard side Vanguard positioning the gantries with Europa tipped over on her starboard side. Photo: Vanguard

Specialist heavy lift installation contractor Vanguard completed a complex lifting operation to upright the Bark Europa, a 650 tonne sailing ship, after it tipped over onto its side when in dry dock.

Bark Europa is a 112 year old tall ship built for the State of Hamburg, in Hamburg, Germany, in 1911. In May it slipped from its keel supports and rolled onto its starboard side during an operation to prepare for its return to the sea. It happened at the Victoria and Alfred waterfront yard in Cape Town, South Africa. The vessel weighs 650 tonnes and is 44.5 metres long.

Working for US salvage specialist Resolve Marine, South Africa-based Vanguard was contracted to engineer and perform an up-righting operation and to realign the vessel with the centre line of the track system in the dry dock. A crane lift was not possible because of insufficient space surrounding the vessel to set up a suitably sized machine. Vanguard’s engineering team designed a bespoke lifting solution.

The answer was to use two telescopic hydraulic gantry lifting systems, positioned over the vessel between its masts, to minimise any further impact on the masts and rigging. Once the 400 and 600 tonne capacity lifting systems were in place, two header beams were positioned between them and four 186 tonne capacity strand jacks were installed between the header beams and the load.

Europa back to vertical courtesy of Vanguard Europa righted and back in position after Vanguard’s lift and shift operation. Photo: Vanguard

Back on an even keel

The strand jacks were mounted atop the header beams and rigged to custom-made brackets on the keel at the bottom of the ship. Vanguard said this method provided a high degree of accuracy and enabled the team to lift and upright the vessel in a controlled and precise manner. After the vertical lift Vanguard completed a transverse skidding operation to realign the vessel with the dry dock track system.

“Vanguard were delighted to work for Resolve Marine and alongside Trinity Marine Architects on this unique project. The extensive planning and engineering work that was involved is evident in the precision of the execution,” said Bryan Hodgkinson, Vanguard director, continuing, “It was a true team effort and the success of the project is testament to the knowledge and experience within the business.”

The historic ship is due to return to sea in September for a trip from Cape Town to South America.

side view of the forward pair of gantry legs Side view of the forward pair of gantry legs on one side topped by two header beams and linked across to the other side of the vessel with two more. All were on tracks to allow sideways movement. Photo: Vanguard

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