SMIT Salvage chooses ropes with Dyneema®
The ship’s owners called in the assistance of SMIT Salvage. Understanding the extreme conditions they would face, the 10-man SMIT team chartered two powerful tugs and secured help from the French Navy, which attended the scene with a frigate fitted out with two helicopters. After being lowered onto the listing ship’s deck, the team faced a challenging climb along the accommodation area, down to the relevant deck to reach her bow. There, they would have to maneuver and secure the tow line amid the wind, rain and heavy seas. Everything being well, the tugs would then turn the Modern Express into the wind, reducing the risk of her capsizing, and tow her to a suitable refuge port.
Given the challenging situation, the salvors decided to use a towing connection made with Dyneema® fiber. There were two reasons: weight and handling. Ropes made with Dyneema® fiber are as strong as steel wire ropes of the same diameter, but seven times lighter. This was a major advantage. Without the ship’s power to run the winches, the wire would need to be manhandled by the team, so the weight-saving, increased maneuverability and handling aspects were important considerations.