No golf for salvage expert Nick Sloane
ROME, ITALY: After rescuing a burning ship from pirate-infested waters off Yemen and salvaging a sinking oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, South African salvage master Nick Sloane faces his biggest test yet off an idyllic Mediterranean island.
The Zambia-born Sloane was flown to the Italian island of Giglio in 2012 from New Zealand, where he was working on a spill from the MV Rena oil tanker, to tackle the biggest ever salvage operation of a passenger ship.
He has led an international operation with hundreds of salvage workers including divers, welders and engineers working 24 hours a day around the rusting 290-metre hulk, which is bigger than the Titanic.
Sloane's team successfully raised the ship into an upright last year in an operation that some thought impossible. Now the team plan to re-float the ship so it can to be towed away as scrap.
"By the end of July, the Costa Concordia is gone from Giglio," Sloane said in one of his video updates for the operation's website - The Parbuckling Project
When the refloating of the 114,500-ton ship gets underway using giant sponsons welded to its sides for buoyancy, Sloane will be the one giving the commands. The ruddy salvage master hit a snag in 2012 when storms hampered the operation and there were serious difficulties drilling into the granite seabed to install a metal platform to keep the ship stable.
CNN has described him as "a cross between Russell Crowe and Prince Harry" and he has a master mariner certificate, which allows him to sail any type of ship anywhere in the world.
He began his career in 1980 working on the tugs at Safmarine, a South African salvage company. His first major job was the salvage of the Castillo de Bellver, a burning Spanish tanker filled with 252,000 tons of crude stranded off the coast of South Africa.
He worked his way up the ranks and was promoted to the position of salvage master in 1991. He was part of a team that went in with the US Navy's salvage division to repair damaged pipelines and oil infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq immediately after the US-led invasions and has worked in Russia to build a giant oil pipeline for Kazakh crude.
He has dealt with accidents that caused some of the worst oil spills in the world in recent years. In 2011, he was involved in a risky operation when he helped secure the Brillante Virtuoso tanker, which was attacked by pirates off Yemen and set on fire.
While there are no golf courses to keep where he can practice his favourite sport, there is at least some solace for the work-hard, play-hard attitude of the South African: Tuscany, is home to his most-loved wine, Chianti.
Source: AFP via I-Net Bridge