Korean Government Officially Announces Plan to Salvage Sunken Sewol Ferry

On April 22, the Korean government announced its final decision to salvage, in one piece, the Sewol ferry, which capsized on April 16, 2014, taking the lives of over 300.

Currently, the vessel is sitting at a depth of 44 meters, with its left side to the ocean floor. Taking into account various factors such as current and adsorption, the Sewol is estimated to weigh about 8,400 tons underwater, and above water, 10,200 tons.

This will be the first attempt in history at salvaging a ship of this size without any sort of division of the vessel, and the finalization of the decision to salvage it was in itself was a challenge, as, with no precedent, there are a lot of unknown factors and uncertainty.

Depending on conditions such as weather and environment, the process is estimated to take anywhere from 12 to 18 months and to cost anything from 100 to 150 billion won (approx. 92.7 – 139 million USD) or more.

Yoo Ki Joon of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) said, “We will keep lines of communication open with the bereaved families throughout the salvaging operation, and we will do our absolute best in the successful recovery of the ship and the deceased.”

The recovery operation is slated to begin in September of this year.

Meanwhile, the families of the deceased have expressed their relief at the recent announcement, as they had been pushing for the decision to be made for some time. Yoo Kyung Keun of the group 416 Family, which is made up of the families of the survivors and deceased, as well as those who lost their lives during rescue operations, stated to Yonhap News, “While it’s an official announcement made six months after talks began about salvaging the ship, we still welcome the announcement,” and expressed the group’s wishes that the government keep the recovery process transparent.

As of April 22, 2015, there are still nine that haven’t been found from the April 16 tragedy, four of which were students of Danwon High School.

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