By Chris King •
Updated: 16 Sep 2022 • 18:18
Image of bulk carrier beached off Gibraltar bay after collision with another ship.
Credit: Twitter @Gibdan1
As announced in a press release today, September 16, The Gibraltar Port Authority, in anticipation of adverse weather conditions that are expected in Gibraltar this weekend, have agreed to the implementation of Resolve’s (the salvors) Heavy Weather Plan for the OS 35.
In agreeing to the plan proposed by Resolve, the GPA and HMGoG sought the advice of anindependent salvage expert on the best course of action. The GPA has briefed local media, the residents of Catalan Bay and the Spanish authorities on the planned operation as interested parties, on the details of the plan and consulted on alternatives to it to ensure that the plan is the best plan available.
The GPA and HMGoG are confident that the plan proposed by Resolve is the best course of actionto secure the vessel in place as far as possible, minimise the potential for pollution and give thesalvors the best chance of recovering the vessel efficiently and as quickly as possible going forward.
The GPA’s independent salvage expert has advised that the OS 35 is, by definition, already sunk.The ship itself can be considered as 2 pieces. A forward section, which has a length of 73m, and anaft section of 105m long. The 2 sections are still connected together by cracked, bent and buckledsteel. However, the structural integrity of the hull has totally failed.
Approximately, the forward three-quarters of the ship are damaged and flooded with water. Itsposition in shallow water means that the forward two-thirds of the ship are resting heavily on thesandy seabed.
The aft section, where there is added buoyancy from the dry cargo hold 5 and engine room, is stilllifted from the seabed by several metres. This section is light enough to be moved and twisted bythe forces of nature during heavy weather, whilst the forward section cannot move anymore
If the vessel is left in its current position throughout the weekend’s heavy weather, it is possible thatit could suffer further damage and risk pollution from unpumpable fuel residues and debris fromfurniture and loose items that cannot be removed from the ship on time.
In heavy weather, any fuel residues and debris that escape from the vessel cannot be contained.Leaving the vessel in its current position through the incoming heavy weather could also result inthe aft section being moved in an uncontrolled manner to a position that makes further salvage andrecovery operations more technically difficult and less efficient.
Resolve’s Heavy Weather Plan involves lowering the aft section of the OS 35 in a controlled mannerso that it also rests firmly on the sandy seabed, in advance of the arrival of heavy weather.This will stabilise the aft section so that it cannot move and twist with the movements of the seaswell, tide and wind.
This will prevent further damage to the vessel and protect the environment as far as possible frompotential pollution from unpumpable fuel residues and debris. The risk of pollution can never beeliminated entirely.
Stabilising the aft section provides the salvors with the best possible chance of continuing with therecovery operation successfully and efficiently going forward.
The Gibraltar Port Authority and HMGoG have agreed that the controlled lowering of the aft
section should be conducted on Friday, before the arrival of heavy weather at the weekend.
The salvors intend to remove all floating, loose items from the vessel and secure the hatches.
The potential environmental impacts of pollution that may occur during the operation will be
mitigated with the boom that surrounds the vessel. Salvors will then lower the aft section to the seabed by allowing water to enter cargo hold 5 and the engine room in a controlled manner.
Once the operation is complete, all booms surrounding the vessel and at beaches will be removed
in order to prevent them from damage in the heavy weather.
The Captain of the Port, John Ghio, said: “The plan proposed by Resolve to stabilise the aft section
on the seabed is the best option available to prevent further damage to the vessel and pollution that
is likely to occur in heavy weather”.
He continued: “This controlled operation provides an opportunity to mitigate any environmental impacts from pollution and floating debris, which we would otherwise be unable to contain in heavy weather.”.
“The GPA and the Department of the Environment, together with our partner agencies will monitor the vessel constantly throughout the heavy weather in order to mobilise any cleanup operations as quickly as it is safe to do so”, he concluded.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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