Surveying progress on large metal object found at Wan Chai Development Phase II area

A spokesman for the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) said today (May 21) that the department, having conducted preliminary surveying and assessment, has decided to relocate the large metal object found within the project area of Wan Chai Development Phase II under the water to a neighbouring seabed area of the reclamation site. This would allow for resumption of the relevant reclamation works while further surveying to verify the identity of the object and its conservation value continues.

The CEDD's contractor found the object 6 metres beneath the seabed at the end of last year while conducting dredging works near the old Wan Chai Ferry Pier to prepare for reclamation for Wan Chai Development Phase II and tunnel works of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass. The CEDD subsequently contacted the Marine Department and the Antiquities and Monuments Office and commissioned a marine archaeologist to conduct a preliminary assessment of the historical, heritage and archaeological values of the object. The department also requested the contractor to adopt an appropriate method for clearing the sediment in the vicinity of the object to facilitate the gathering of information for assessing its identity.

The information gathered so far reveals that the dimensions of the object are approximately 40m in length, from 2m to 11m in width and 2m in height, with noticeable corrosion and cracks in certain parts (please see the annex). According to the preliminary assessment by the marine archaeologist, the object may be part of the bottom of the wreck of a ship that sank in Victoria Harbour during World War II, and could be the remains of HMS Tamar. The identity of the object, however, is yet to be confirmed as the ship's bell, name plate or any other unique features have not been found.

On the advice of the archaeologist, the contractor will continue to remove the sediment inside and surrounding the object and other substances that cover it until the object is fully exposed for comparison with the relevant information for drawing a more solid conclusion. The work will take some time to complete.

"To better protect the object and ensure that the surveying can continue and to minimise the impacts on the related infrastructure projects, we consider relocation of the object underwater to a nearby seabed area for further surveying the most appropriate plan. We have taken into account the actual circumstances, including the fact that further surveying should take place underwater to avoid exposure of the metal object to air, which may accelerate oxidation and corrosion. This will allow the relevant works projects to resume as well," the spokesman said.

The CEDD has arranged for its contractor to continue removing the sediment surrounding the object for further inspection of its structure and overall condition in a bid to formulate a suitable relocation plan. It is expected that the object will be relocated from the reclamation site to a nearby seabed area by the end of next month. Further surveying can be conducted and the reclamation works and relevant projects can be resumed then. A more substantive assessment of the impacts on the progress of the relevant projects will then be carried out.

Ends/Thursday, May 21, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:16