OS 25 wreck pictured September 19, 2022. Photo courtesy MateoGib

Gibraltar Sets Timeline for OS 35 Wreck Removal

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 11893
October 3, 2022

Gibraltar’s Captain of the Port has given the owners and insurers of the stricken OS 35 shipwreck until the end of May 2023 for its removal.

While the method of removal is still in the planning stage, the Captain of the Port order sets a timeline, with some allowances for weather delays, for the shipowner and insurers for the wreck’s removal and allows them to proceed with the tendering process. Failure to remove the wreck within the schedule would constitute a violation of sections 179E and 179F of Part VIIIA of the Merchant Shipping Act.

“Whilst the precise methodology for the removal of the OS 35 and its contents has not yet been established, this preliminary schedule is an important development in the operation. It confirms the intentions of the owners and their insurers to comply with the deadline and conditions specified in the Wreck Removal Notice, and allows them to proceed with the important Invitation to Tender process to identify and select a contractor with the expertise necessary to safely and efficiently remove the wreck in the safest way possible and in a manner that protects the marine environment as far as possible,” said Captain of the Port, John Ghio.

The wreck removal will take place in three phases:

  1. the Caretaker Phase, which involves security, caretaking and the mitigation of pollution;
  2. the Invitation to Tender Phase, which will select a contractor with a track record for safely and successfully carrying out similar wreck removal operations;
  3. the final Wreck Removal Phase, which is expected to take approximately 6 months with allowances made for weather disturbances, and is expected to be complete by 30th May 2023.

The Tuvalu-flagged bulk carrier OS 35 was outbound from Gibraltar Port with a load of steel bars when it collided with the unladen LNG carrier Adam LNG in the Bay of Gibraltar on Monday, August 29, 2022. The OS 35 was then anchored off Catalan Bay, on the opposite side of the Gibraltar peninsula, where it partially sank and later began breaking up, resulting in the release of an undisclosed amount of fuel oil.

While an operation was carried out to remove all recoverable oil from the ship’s tanks about a week after the incident, some remnant unrecoverable oil is still on board. These oil residues have escaped from the wreck intermittently, requiring a response both at sea and along the shoreline.

Resolve Marine has been the appointed salvor so far in the operation.

In mid-September, in preparation for heavy weather, Resolve took the step of sinking the OS 35’s stern in order to prevent it from breaking loose in the swell.

The LNG carrier involved in the initial collision, the Marshall Islands-flagged Adam LNG, sustained only minimal damage. No injuries were reported on either vessel.

The OS 35 wreck recalls the Wakashio incident in July 2020 in Mauritius. The bulk carrier, which was unladen, ran aground on the reefs of Pointe-d’Esny and subsequently broke in two. Salvors were able to refloat the 225-meter bow section and scuttle it deeper waters in August 2020. However, the stern section had to be dismantled in place and, due to weather delays, its full removal wasn’t completed until January 2022—about a year and a half after the initial grounding.

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