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The Gibraltar government is reporting that the wreck of the OS 35 bulk carrier has shifted slightly from its position due to adverse weather conditions. This has caused a final separation of the bilge keel, resulting in the complete separation of the hull that was damaged previously.
Some oil residue has been observed escaping from the wreck and coastal cleanup operations are underway.
The government stresses that it is important to note that all possible extractable oil was removed from the OS 35 last year, and the observed oil is just residues contained in a duct connecting a fuel tank to the engine room.
Salvage teams will investigate the damage and implement oil mitigation measures as weather permits.
At this time, the public is advised to avoid Gibraltar’s east side beaches until further notice.
The Gibraltar Port Authority is working closely with the Department for the Environment to contain and remove any tar balls and oil from beaches.
The Tuvalu-flagged bulk carrier was departing 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 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 broke up, resulting in the release of fuel oil.
Authorities have given the ship’s owners and insurers until the end of May to complete the wreck removal, which at this point seems increasingly unlikely.
Resolve Marine was the appointed salvor in the initial phase of the oil removal operation. In September, crews took the step of sinking the OS 35’s stern in order to prevent it from breaking up further during heavy weather.
Later, in November 2022, the Gibraltar Port Authority approved a proposal from TMC Marine for the complete removal of the wreck within the May timeframe. TMC Marine has selected subcontractor Koole Contractors to carry out the work.
In early March, the OS 35 survived a series of winter storms with only minimal damage.
It’s unclear if the wreck’s shifting and separation will impact the wreck removal timeline going forward.
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