AMSTERDAM, June 3 (Reuters) - Dutch companies have started a weeks-long operation to raise the Baltic Ace car carrier, which collided with a cargo ship in 2012, killing 11 crew and sending 1,400 cars to the bottom of the North Sea, the government said on Tuesday.
Boskalis and Mammoet Salvage were contracted to remove 540,000 litres of fuel, extract the automobiles and raise the wreck from a depth of 11 metres for roughly 67 million euros ($91 million).
The Baltic Ace went down in stormy weather 65 kilometres (off the Dutch coast. It collided with the Corvus J container ship on Dec. 5, 2012, in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the North Sea.
The Dutch, a dominant maritime power during the Golden Age, have developed expertise in salvaging wrecks. They recovered the Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, and the Costa Concordia cruise liner.
After the fuel is pumped out of the Baltic Ace, the ship will be cut into six pieces and lifted to the surface with giant cranes, the Dutch Department of Public Works said in a statement.
The Baltic Ace was managed by Stamco Ship Management Co. Ltd., based in Piraeus, Greece, and owned by Isle of Man-based Ray Car Carriers. It was insured for between $50 million and $60 million. ($1 = 0.7349 Euros) (Reporting By Anthony Deutsch)