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Orange cable vessel salvage under way

The operation to salvage France Telecom-Orange's cable ship, the Chamarel, which ran aground off Namibia following a fire on 8 August, is now underway. The ship is currently located on sand banks 30 km from Henties Bay in Namibia.

Orange says in a statement that the Namibian Ministry of Transport has requestedthat France Telecom-Orange remove any pollutants from the vessel and move her to a  location where she will not pose any threat to the environment. In agreement with the insurance companies, a specialist company, Smit Salvage, has been appointed to oversee these operations.

The statement says an initial assessment of damage to the vessel indicates that the risk of pollution is  minimal and can be controlled. The fuel bunkers, which are largely  undamaged, currently contain less than a quarter of the vessel's total capacity of marine gas oil, most of the fuel having already been used  during the maintenance operation prior to the fire or burnt off during the fire. 

Although the exact timing remains subject to meteorological conditions, work is already underway to pump the  remaining fuel ashore into mobile tanks, which will then be removed via a temporary road. As an additional precaution, a floating barrage has  also been put in place around the vessel to contain any spillages.

All 56 crew members were safely recovered by a nearby fishing vessel  without injury or incident. With the exception of several key officers, who have remained in Namibia to assist with ongoing operations, the crew  has now been repatriated.

The company says the incident has had no impact on submarine cables in the area which will continue to function normally. FT Marine, a fully-owned subsidiary of France Telecom-Orange, has taken all appropriate measures to manage maintenance operations.

Another of FT Marine's cable ships, the Leon Thevenin, is en route to Cape Town in South Africa. She will be available by the end of the month to intervene in any incidents affecting cables in the region.

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