A large cargo ship carrying 14,600 sheep that capsized in November off the Romanian coast has been brought to the surface following a round-the-clock operation.
The Petrol Services Group, GSP, said a giant floating crane raised the Queen Hind which was docked at the Romanian Black Sea port of Midia late Tuesday.
The Palau-flagged vessel which was transporting the sheep from Romania to Saudi Arabia where they were due to be slaughtered sank in November.
Rescuers found secret decks for extra animals on the livestock carrier, raising questions whether overloading was to blame for the capsize.
After the disaster, rescuers managed to save 254 sheep, although dozens later died of exhaustion and injuries.
Some 180 survived and animal welfare groups relocated then in a farm north of Bucharest.
“Our teams successfully refloated the Queen Hind. According to our information, this as a unique operation, at least for the Black Sea region,” said Gabriel Comanescu, the company CEO.
More than100 GSP employees and others worked on the project, aided by 20 divers who worked in four shifts.
For the operation which cost an estimated 4 million euros, the company mobilized the biggest sea crane in the Black Sea and used four barges to further stabilize the ship.
“It was not an easy operation…. We managed to refloat a ship, comparable in length to a football field,” he said, adding the operation was successfully finished “without incidents, in record time.”
The company will now safely unload the ship, it said. The sheep remains will be placed in containers and transferred to the Danube port of Tulcea where they will be incinerated.