HomeMedia"Transilvania" Passenger Wreck
sound by Jbgmusic


Wreck removal of “Transilvania” passenger ship

"Transilvania" was one of the luxury passenger ships of Romanian maritime fleet. The passenger ship had entered into Romanian fleet endowment in June 1938, being built at „Burmeister & Wain" shipyards in Copenhagen.

A.  Abstract:

"Transilvania" was one of the luxury passenger ships of Romanian maritime fleet. The passenger ship had entered into Romanian fleet endowment in June 1938, being built at „Burmeister & Wain" shipyards in Copenhagen. Transilvania passenger ship had riveted steel body, 3 decks, 2 2-stroke Diesel engines, 12 cylinders, 2 propellers, total power of 23,000 hp and the following features :

  • Length (L max.) = 132 m.
  • Width (Bmax.) = 17.6 m.
  • Draft max. = 5,75 m.
  • Height = 8,50 m.
  • Weigth = 5.160 to.

In the following years, Transilvania passenger ship had performed luxury cruises on the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea; Ship's cabins could accommodate 412 passengers, at luxury standards from that time. Due to its impeccable services, to the comfort conditions, to the high qualification of the crew, all seats were constantly occupied. International touristic companies had resorted constantly to the Romanian ship in order to organize cruises, before and after the Second World War, up to 1975.

Between 1957 and 1975, Transilvania had performed cruises on Mediterranean Sea, time when it acquired the name of "Mediterranean Swan". In 1975, it moored at 26 Berth from Constanta Port, place where capital repairs were supposed to be done, repairs delayed due to the lack of funds.

On 15th of March 1979 it was decided that the ship should be brought to Galati, where the specialists from ICEPRONAV were supposed to transform the initial establishments of the ship to the new standards. Two days later, on 17th of March, the ship was brought to Galati and moored in line on Danube Faleza

It stayed there for two months, being an attraction point for city's residents. Then, it was moved downstream, at kilometer 150. During the autumn of 1979, the Danube's waters decreased severely, fact that had as result the ship being supported by the quay rocks. Along with daily decrease of Danube's water level, the pressure on the quay rocks increases, increase which culminated with its disintegration under the weight of the ship, breaking the bonds from the shore and its capsized on the port side, action which drove also the rocks from the prism and, first of all, the first line of piles from the basis of the rock riprap.

B. Development of Transilvania wreck removal works:

In 2008, after 29 years from Transilvania ship sinking, in the area of kilometer 150 - on the Danube, in Galati harbor, Maritime Danube Ports Administration S.A. had concluded a contract with SC SUPERQUATRO GRUP SRL as executer, for the operation of "Transilvania" passenger ship's wreck removal.

The works had developed for 2 (two) years and 3 (three) months, out of which only 1 (one) year and 5 (five) months were effectively used, the balance representing unfavorable weather conditions caused by sudden variations of the Danube water levels and by low temperature.

It must be mentioned the fact that, at the date of issuing the technical offer, the wreck was covered with luxuriant vegetation and sediments with a heterogeneous composition made up of trees, routs, metallic and vegetable ropes, residues from ships and important quantities of ore coming from the barges operated in the area, and from the Tender Book it resulted that 40% from the wreck had been removed in 1983, when it was initiated a oxy-gas cutting for the part of the ship found above the water level.

At short time after starting the works of clearing and un-silting, the real dimensions of the wreck started to reveal; in parallel with works' development, the executer performed its own measurements, requested expertise and when it became obvious that the reality is totally different than estimated, the executer informed the beneficiary about these unconformities, which in fact represent the following:

  • According to the measurements, the body of the wreck was 50% higher than notified through the Tender Book;
  • The wreck's load with sediments was 100%, as against the 66,67% stipulated in the Tender Book;
  • The volume of the material dredged from the wreck and from its profile was 300% higher than it was notified in the Tender Book;
  • The existence of hydro-technical works (dykes) beneath the ship, not specified in the Tender Book;
  • Large quantities of stones from the prism of riprap driven beneath the wreck;

These realities forced the executer to modify the initial technical solution. The team renounced to under-cross the wreck with the draggings, to use the diamond wire for cutting and started the preparations for using 300 tf hydraulic pullers, each. There had been designed and executed 4 (four) special anchors and in June 2009, the first 2 (two) pullers started to work. In order to make up for the lost time, between March and June 2009, there had been cut 2 (two) sections in the bow area, using floating cranes and a naval chain.

During the entire duration of performing the wreck removal works, the unsilting operations had continued, being performed both manually through knocking-out with a pick axe, as well as using the dredging pumps or cranes with bucket; the material dredged was loaded into hydro clap barges, transported and overflow into the area indicated by the River Administration Of The Lower Danube Galati.

Starting with June 2009, with the help of very professional divers and pulling devices, 6 sections had been prepared for cutting. The cutting operations developed without problems; in the areas with large metal density, the pullers functioned at maximum power (2 x 300 tf).

During removing from the water the 2 (two) sections from the wreck's bow, it was observed that the corrosion of the body was accentuated by those 30 years spent under water; the plates had thinned areas (due to the current of the water and sediments) up to the consistency of a paper sheet, the thinned rivets were loose in the plates' holes which fixed them and cutting the starboard side in 1983 made that the cut section blocks had no consistency. In the crane's hook, under their own weight, the sections dismantled in tens of pieces. This reality forced the executer to give more attention to the operation of pulling to the shore the cut sections, reason for which the bed was leveled with a level of stones, interlard with broken rock on which it was mounted a system of prefabricated panels of reinforced concrete, the sections being pulled to the shore on this runway.

By applying these completions to the ship salvage technology, the executer succeeded to perform the Transilvania wreck's removal operation, by approaching to the shore the cut sections from it, their loading into barges and their delivery to the Beneficiary; the total quantity of material resulted from wreck's dismantling was 3723,84 tons.

The risk of accidental overflow with hydrocarbons from the wreck was prevented due to the measures taken in due time and during entire execution of the works. It is good to know that from the wreck there had been removed and delivered to CN Maritime Danube Ports Administration SA 15 m3 of hydrocarbons remains; during works' development being used 500 ml of absorbent dam, 2800 kg of absorbent material and 250 liters of biodegradable detergent.

C. Effective interruption of wreck removal works.

During the development of removal works, for a period of over 10 months, the executer confronted with extreme weather conditions which meant a hard trial for the divers involved in these operations due to the visibility reduced to 0 and to the obstacles transported by the water (roots, entire trees, objects dragged by the water from the shore, ice floes, etc) under conditions of high level of Danube waters. Many times, these conditions constitute an obstacle even for the ships involved in the works.

D. Finalizing the works of wreck removal:

The executer managed to overcome, in a short interval of time, the difficulties encountered and, for the first time in Romania, a work of this type was successfully finalized. For the first time in Romania, pulling hydraulic devices had been used; these devices were designed and produced by a Romanian company - HYDRAMOLD IASI; to be mentioned that this type of devices is internationally used by the world's best known companies.

The Bulgarian team of divers involved in the operations of wreck removal used for the first time at Danube, during their activity, Kirby-Morgan systems of communication (systems which allow the constant connection of the diver in immersion with the control point) and individual light diving suits with rigid helmet. During the wreck removal works, it was involved a great number of equipments and personnel: 2 (two) floating cranes of 100 tf (occasionally), a floating crane of 32 tf (permanently), a floating crane of 16 tf (permanently), 2 floating installations of 5 tf equipped with bucket and grapple, 2 hydro clap barges for sediments transport, a tug-boat of 600 HP, 3 barges, 1 motor ferry, 4 work rafts, 2 work boats, 1 pontoon bedroom (head quarter of divers team), more than 10 divers, over 20 workers with different qualifications.

It should be mentioned that for the works of Transilvania passenger wreck removal, from signing the contract up to signing the final acceptance report, it took 2 years and 3 months, while for the same type of works, in order to remove Rostock wreck from Sulina channel, it took more than 5 years. More so, Transilvania wreck removal was performed by a sole executer, respectively SC SUPERQUATRO GRUP SRL, while Rostock wreck removal works from Sulina channel had been consecutively commissioned and abandoned by many companies, the work being finalized by a consortium represented by the well known company from United States, Titan.

  • This information material is accompanied by a set of photographs with original images taken during works' development.
  • Those interested by certain aspects during the works' development can request more information, by sending e-mail to the following address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The material was issued by SC SUPERQUATRO GRUP SRL GALATI staff.