The Salvage of the M/V Mama Katia
At approximately 1100 hours on April 11, 2005, the Safe/Sea Emergency Response Center received a call from the M/V Mama Katia, a 40 foot Silverton. The M/V Mama Katia had run aground on Spar Island in Mount Hope Bay the previous night and needed to be removed. Captains Phil LeBlanc and Andy Casey sortied in the M/V Safe/Sea Block Island with an insurance adjustor and arrived on scene at 1400 hours. After surveying the condition of the vessel and its position at low tide, it was decided to attempt the re-float at high tide that night. The adjustor was returned to Wickford where the necessary supplies to prepare the vessel for the re-float were collected.
Captains LeBlanc and Casey returned to the M/V Mama Katia and proceeded to rig it for what would prove to be a very heavy and difficult pull. Because the vessel was so high aground and so heavy, it was decided that the tow line could not be attached to the forward cleats without running the risk of tearing them from the deck. Therefore, a strap was rigged around the entire hull, which would in turn be attached to the tow line, placing the strain and pressure of the pull on the entire structure of the vessel instead of the two points of the bolted down cleats.
At approximately 2100 hours, Safe/Sea returned to the scene of the grounded vessel with Captains Pete Andrews and Phil Leblanc on the M/V Safe/Sea Block Island, and Captain Andy Casey and Salvage Hand Nick LeBlanc on the M/V Safe/Sea Salvor. Captain LeBlanc entered the cold April water in a wetsuit in order to direct the Salvage from the beach and to run the tow lines from the towing vessels to the Mama Katia. The first two hours were spent applying steady even pressure to the grounded vessel while waiting for the tide to reach its peak. Soon, it was evident that the high tide alone would not be sufficient enough to re-float the vessel, and more and more pressure was applied to the tow.
Incredibly, because so much bollard pull was needed, no less than three, one and a quarter inch, solid aluminum posts on the tow bits were broken off giving everyone a brief fright. After a short rest to reposition the tow line and re-strategize, it was decided to shorten the tow line on the M/V Salvor in order to use its jet wash to blast the sand out from under the Mama Katia. The Salvor was brought to within fifty feet of the casualty, while the M/V Block Island was left pulling approximately one hundred and fifty feet away. Fortunately for Captain LeBlanc, who by this time had spent over two hours in the water and on the beach, this plan worked, and the Mama Katia was re-floated at 2315 hours.
Captain LeBlanc was immediately returned to the heated pilothouse of the M/V Safe/Sea Salvor in order to change into dry clothing, and the group proceeded to Borden Light Marina, where the vessel owners were kind enough to have hot coffee waiting. As if to highlight the sometimes perilous duty of the salvors, Captain LeBlanc had no sooner changed into dry clothes and warmed up when Mother Nature decided to produce snow as the crew was cleaning up and preparing to head for home.