The wreck of the ship of Her Majesty’s Naval Service – SS Sagaing which sank at the Trincomalee harbour during World War II, was refloated after 75 years by a team of divers of the Sri Lanka Navy.
The 138 m long passenger cum cargo ship launched on 24th December 1924 was hit by Japanese carrier aircraft bombers while anchored at the Trincomalee harbour on 09th April 1942 and subsequently abandoned due to escalating fire onboard. On 24thAugust 1943, the damaged ship had been sunk to be used as a pier for Naval ships.
The Sri Lanka Navy resorted to refloat the wreck, which was fully submerged 35 feet under the sea, in order to make sea room for expanding berthing facilities in the harbour. The task of salvaging and removing the ship wreck was assigned to he Eastern Naval Command and it was undertaken by the Eastern Command Diving Unit headed by the Command Diving Officer (E), Captain (CDO) Krishantha Athukorala on 11th September 2017.
Then a comprehensive salvage plan made by CDO (E) was launched by a team of divers through patching up all damages and strengthening up the deteriorated ship’s structural parts by erecting an artificial ship side in to the sunken wreck for dewatering the ship’s internal volume to recover lost buoyancy. After a series of dedicated endeavors made along a period of five months, on 22nd March the wreck started to ascend to the surface.
The Navy said that the project would not have been completed on schedule without the unstinted support extended by Tokyo Cement by way of providing a Crane Barge almost throughout the period with a full time operator. (Colombo Gazette)