Christmas Islanders demand removal of sunken ship

The MV Tycoon has been blocking the Christmas Island port since January. [Audience submitted: Robyn Stephenson]
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The MV Tycoon has been blocking the Christmas Island port since January. [Audience submitted: Robyn Stephenson]

Last Updated: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 15:39:00 +1000

The Australian Government is under pressure to accelerate plans to remove a sunken ship blocking Christmas Island's only port.

The 4,000 tonne freighter the MV Tycoon was smashed against the cliffs at Flying Fish Cove by five-metre seas in January.

Since then, the port has been closed while authorities waited for calmer weather to salvage the wreck.

The sunken freighter has forced ships to go through the time-consuming task of unloading cargo offshore using barges.

Gordon Thompson from the Christmas Island Union of Workers says the situation is unacceptable and needs to be resolved immediately.

"It's certainly a continuing impediment to operations on Christmas Island. It needs to be resolved as soon as possible," he said.

The Australian Government says removal of the wreck is a priority but it has exhausted all options to force the ship owner's to salvage the ship.

A spokesman for the Department of Regional Australia says the department has informed the owner that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will oversee removal of the wreck.

However, the department says it cannot say when the wreck will be removed, or who will conduct the salvage operation.

Mr Thompson says Christmas Island residents need to have the situation resolved quickly.

"The government needs to get the salvage experts in immediately to remove the hulk so we can resume proper supply lines for our supply ship," he said.

Mr Thompson says while authorities had to wait for calm weather, the government must take immediate action to restore normal port operations.

"The squall season has abated. Ideally the government would have ensured that the salvage operator was ready to go as soon as the weather permitted but that hasn't been the case."

The government says it is trying to limit the impact of the ship wreck on the community and is already paying the additional cost of unloading cargo offshore.

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