The Salvage of the Car Carrier Tricolor




The ‘TRICOLOR’ is a 1987 built Norwegian flagged vehicle carrier, which, in thick fog in the early hours of 14 December 2002 was struck by ‘Kariba’,  a 1982 built Bahamian flagged container ship, in the French Exclusive Economic Zone some 20 miles north of the French coast in the English channel.


TRICOLOR sank as a result of the impact of the striking and was eventually declared a total loss.


Subsequently the ships the Nicola and the Vicky collided with the wreck of the Tricolor.

In December 2002 French authorities ordered the TRICOLOR to be removed, as it was perceived to represent a danger to shipping and the environment.





DOVER, England -- An investigation has started into how a ship carrying 70,000 tonnes of highly flammable kerosene hit a submerged car transporter in the English Channel.

Inspections are being carried out on the Turkish-registered Vicky to see whether any fuel is leaking into the Channel after the collision at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

       The 22-year-old Vicky is the second vessel to strike the Tricolor, which was carrying 2,862 BMWs, Volvos and Saabs worth an estimated £30 million when it sank off the French port of Dunkirk after a collision on December 14.

       The coastguard is hopeful that even if there is a major leak, then kerosene being highly flammable will evaporate quite quickly, so there won't be massive damage to the coastline.

       None of the 24 crew on board the Vicky, a 243 metre-long, 43,000 tonne tanker which was sailing from Antwerp in Belgium to New York, was injured.

The ship became stuck on the Tricolor but later came free with the rising tide.

The captain sailed the vessel about a mile away and dropped anchor before beginning to survey for damage.

       Maritime union NUMAST said "Russian roulette" was being played with shipping safety in the Channel.

       The Dover Coastguard spokeswoman said that despite hourly warnings to ships in the Channel about the submerged Tricolor, the ultimate responsibility always lay with the master of any vessel.

She said: "We have been conducted VHF radio broadcasts warning of the wreck of the Tricolor every hour, as have the French authorities. The information has been out there. It is for any subsequent investigation to say what happened in this case."

        The wreckage is marked by five illuminated buoys, including one that is radar-equipped.

       Mark Clark, spokesman for the Maritime Coastguard Agency, said: "It just emphasises how busy this stretch of water is. There's four to five hundred ship movements through it per day."

       The Vicky, built in 1981, is a single-hulled, double-bottomed vessel -- meaning it has an extra layer of metal around the base of the hull.

The wreck of the Tricolor was hit again by the Nicola, a 3,000-tonne ship registered in the Dutch Antilles, on December 16.


DOVER, England (CNN) -- A cargo ship has run into the sunken Tricolor, the vessel that sank in the English Channel in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

         The Nicola, a 3,000 tonne ship registered in the Dutch Antilles, struck the Norwegian vessel, which sank off Dunkirk on Saturday after a collision with another vessel in thick fog.

          The Nicola was stuck on top of The Tricola for several hours before being pulled free by two tugboats on Monday morning, .

          A French Maritime Authority spokesman said The Nicola was not believed to have suffered serious damage. It is currently anchored nearby.






The Tricolor, a Norwegian-registered car carrier, was carrying £30 million ($47.7m) worth of luxury cars when it sank in the English Channel in the early hours of Saturday following a collision with another vessel in fog.

Although all of its crew escaped unharmed, the tanker -- and its cargo of almost 3,000 BMWs, Volvos and Saabs -- lay just below the surface.


The salvage operation required the cutting of the TRICOLOR into six managable sections for lifting and transportation by cutting through the hull with a steel wire.





                                        Click here to see enlarged photo


A team of eight and a vessel from salvage company Smit Tak are in position about 20 miles east of the Kent coast to check the Tricolor for oil leaks.

High winds and strong sea currents prevented divers from going down to the wreck to assess damage on Sunday.

The French warship Geranium, sent from Cherbourg, was alongside the Tricolor to alert other ships to the wreck. A single buoy marked the spot.

When weather improves, three or four buoys will be placed around the wreck.

The Tricolor was carrying the cars from Zeebrugge, in Belgium, to Southampton, England.

In a statement, Per Ronnevig, spokesman for shipping firm Wilhelmsen Lines, which owned the carrier, said as well as the cars, the Tricolor was also transporting 77 other cargo units, which mainly consisted of tractors and crane parts.

The vessel was estimated to be worth £25.1 million ($39.9).

Ronnevig said the the cargo would probably have to be written off.

He said: "I think we must consider it lost. She probably capsized when she went down. It means that all the cars are probably lying in pieces down there."







Single screw PCTC (Pure Car Truck Carrier)

Build at Tsuneishi 1987

GRT 49.792 - LPP 190 m

Registered in Tønsberg, Norway (NIS)

Owned by Capital Bank, Scotland

On bareboat-charter to Wilh. Wilhelmsen

Commercial operation by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines AS

Manning and technical management with Barber Ship Management AS, Oslo

Norwegian Captain and 22 Philippine crew