Four ships were landed on the Kuisbank in Zeebrugge, the largest of the four almost 35 years ago. They were all decades old, one maybe 80 years.
Our Flemish Government decided the time had come to clean up the four wrecks.
This task was given to Artes Group and SUBMAR was invited to participate.
Everyone realised it would not be to be an easy job. The two largest wrecks had a wooden hull and were so leaky the water level inside was always equal to the water level outside the wreck. Over the years, the hemp fibers in the seams between the planks had disappeared and many planks were in a terrible state or completely rotten. It soon became clear that pumping water from the wrecks would not be enough to make them float.
That is why we agreed to make the wrecks lighter and to seal the hulls as good as possible.
Very early in the morning at low tide we started to seal as many seams as possible before the tide made us stop. That turned out to be a hell of a job. The planks had to be carefully cleaned to allow the sealant to adhere. Many of them were so rotten that we had to mount large wooden plates to seal the holes.
A team of Artes Group took care of emptying the wrecks as much as possible. With the help of a crane, the heavy pieces were lifted out and placed in waste containers. And a third group of technicians removed as much as possible from the steel superstructure of the oldest wreck with demolition burners.
After a few days, an attempt was made to empty and float a first wreck. It actually worked right away. That was a boost for everyone. With the biggest wreck we had to wait until spring tide to get it floating. But we succeeded. With the crane pontoon LYNN the oldest and largest wreck was picked from the water and safely landed on a transport pontoon.
Another satisfied customer!