THE Marine Department is threatening to take over the burned out wreck of the ill-fated casino ship New Orient Princess unless its owners remove it from Hong Kong waters within four weeks. Department officials issued a removal order this week which gives them the power to do the job themselves and bill the owners. The owners, a group of big local gamblers, have yet to find a buyer following the fire which gutted the ship five weeks ago. Advertisements for the ship ''as is, where is'' have produced few bids. Sources close to management company Sovereign Superb Shipping said the 4,800-tonne ship had been insured for $25 million with a mainland insurance company and had now been declared a write-off. The fire started in the sauna and later engulfed the entire ship, taking nearly a week for firemen to extinguish it entirely after it had run aground near Junk Bay. Two other gambling ships have returned to Hong Kong to run nightly ''voyages to nowhere'' into international waters. Assistant Director of Marine Reggie Kent said the wreck was well anchored and did not pose any immediate risks, but it was policy to remove any ship run aground. ''The owners have not yet given us a salvage plan, but we can be flexible about the exact dates if they have a plan and need extensions,'' Mr Kent said. A similar notice has also been lodged with major local firm Orient Overseas Container Line Limited (OOCL) for its 38,000-tonne ship, Orient Executive, which now lies on a sand-bank near Chek Lap Kok. OOCL general manager Stanley Shen Chi-ching said salvagers would try to re-float the ship today, which had been emptied of fuel to avoid any environmental risk. The ship broke free from an emergency mooring during Severe Tropical Storm Becky which forcedrepairs in a floating dock to be aborted. The ship has no propeller and will eventually be towed back to the dock for repairs.