by Peter Carruthers
ON Saturday the infamous Tateyama Maru was re-floated and towed from Gloucester Island by tugs operated by Pacific Marine Group.
The removal and disposal of the Tateyama Maru and the Whitsunday Magic has cost the Queensland tax payer $1,667,600.
The butt of ongoing controversy the 35-meter former Japanese research vessel broke it anchor when Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays in March.
The owner of the ship at the time, Patrick Von Stieglitz, signed over the deed of the ship to Queensland State Government before Maritime Safety acted in May to remove an estimated three tonnes of oil and fuel.
In September the ship was in the news again after she was set on fire by unknown arsonists.
Chief Executive Officer of PMG, Kevin Chard, said holes in the hull were plugged and 100 tonnes of contaminated water was pumped into intermediate bulk containers before buoyancy was added and a tug dragged the hull back into the water on the high tide.
"We got it off earlier than we thought. We were going to do a dry run on the Saturday because the tide was building...and she came off,” he said.
"We then sent a dive team down to check the integrity of the hull, it was inspected and then we received a tow permit.”
The vessel is now in Townsville waiting for the tide to facilitate the entering of the marine precinct where she will be cut up and used as scrap metal.
Mr Chard described the successful salvage as being quick clean and event free.
Member for Whitsunday, Jason Costigan, was a vocal critic of the Palaszczuk government's handling of the wreck's removal.
In April spearheaded the submission of a petition which advocated for the removal of the "100 foot rust bucket” from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Today Mr Costigan took the focus away from the $1.6 million bill left at the foot of the Queensland tax payer and criticised the tender process leading into the wreck's removal.
"The story should not be about how much it cost but who got the contract to do it,” he said.
"The LNP had a raft of good local policies leading into the election including the Buy Local campaign.
"And here is Labor Government laughing at us.
"Who is to say the salvage bill could have been cheaper if they went with a local, we will never know.
"The state owned the Tateyama Maru, in the end and she has to be removed and Santa was not coming to do it.
"It's just a shame a leading local operator was cut out of the action,” Mr Costigan told the Whitsunday Times.