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Challenging salvage operations in Antarctic waters

In 2012, Fugro undertook a technically challenging salvage operation in Antarctic waters. The work was for the Brazilian Navy and was supported by Petrobras. It consisted of recovering a sunken barge that contained 10,000 litres of fuel.

The barge, which was carrying ‘Arctic diesel,’ sank in December 2011 in 45 metres of water, approximately 500 metres off Admiralty Bay, King George Island - the location of the Brazilian Antarctic research station. Time was of the essence since it was essential that all activities were performed before the end of the Antarctic summer period.

During lengthy discussions between Fugro, Petrobras and Gulmar Offshore (operator of the Gulmar Atlantis dive support vessel, which was under contract to Petrobras) a rapid recovery plan was developed for the salvage operations. Applying our well-established technical capabilities, we devised a comprehensive one-week plan that incorporated solutions to the numerous technical and logistical challenges of working in such a harsh environment and to such a short timescale.


The operation began with an ROV and diving inspection of the barge to confirm its position and status. This confirmed, our saturation divers started preparing to partially lift the barge in order to fix cargo straps under its hull. The straps were then attached to the 140-tonne crane on the Gulmar Atlantis for completion of the lifting operations.

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Once the Brazilian Navy had pumped the recovered barge’s fuel cargo into containers onboard their vessel, the Almirante Maximiano, the barge was transported to the shore for repair.

Throughout the delicate operation our team ensured there was no environmental damage thanks to comprehensive planning and a series of precautionary measures. The entire operation was concluded successfully within seven days.

The Brazilian Navy acknowledged that this complex operation was only possible with the partnership between Fugro, Petrobras and Gulmar Offshore, with all parties committed to conducting the activities safely and with no impact on the environment. 


Our specialist diving teams, ROV services and technical expertise combine to provide pro-active problem solving in even your most challenging environments.

  • Client

  • Brazillian Navy, Petrobras
  • Regions

  • Americas
  • Location

  • Antarctic
  • Industries

Training, planning and safety, critical to the success of a challenging recovery of a sunken barge with its cargo of fuel

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