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OS wreck removal

The two sections of the OS 35 wreck sit on the deck of the semi-submersible heavy lift vessel Fjord, July 3, 2023. Photo courtesy Government of Gibraltar

OS 35 Shipwreck Lifted from Gibraltar Waters

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 16866
July 5, 2023

The operation to raise both sections of the OS 35 shipwreck out of the water off Gibraltar was successfully completed this week, with the two sections of the hull now securely on top of the semi-submersible vessel Fjord, according to Gibraltar’s Captain of the Port.

Surveys of the seabed will be conducted to clear the wreck site of the OS 35, concluding the 10-month operation.

As expected, residues, including heavy oil residues, were released into the protective boom around wreck, and work is ongoing to clear them. The public is asked to stay away from the area and respect the additional preventive booms placed at beaches on the eastside of Gibraltar.

The Fjord will remain in Gibraltar waters for a few weeks to secure the hull sections and prepare for decommissioning in the Netherlands. Once preliminary works are completed, the Fjord will move to an anchorage.

The fact that the hull sections are now completely out of the water effectively means there is no further danger of additional releases of residues from the wreck, once what has already been released is cleared, the Gibraltar Port Authority said in a statement.

“The success of this complex operation is a testament to the hard work and detailed planning that has been integral to the wreck removal operation throughout,” said the Captain of the Port, John Ghio. ”I’d like to thank the public for their understanding and ask once again for their cooperation as we work to protect Gibraltar’s coastline for the continued enjoyment of the bathing season.”

A view of the half-sunk cargo ship OS 35 in Catalan Bay after its collision with an LNG tanker near Gibraltar, September 1, 2022. Gibraltar Government/Handout via REUTERS

The Tuvalu-flagged OS 35 was outbound from Gibraltar Port with a load of steel bars when it collided with an LNG carrier in the Bay of Gibraltar back on August 29, 2022. The bulk carrier 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 fuel oil.

All possible extractable oil was removed from the wreck by a team from Resolve Marine during the initial salvage phase last year, leaving only oil residues on board.

OS 25 wreck pictured September 19, 2022, following the sinking of the vessel’s stern. Photo courtesy MateoGib

The condition of the wreck slowly deteriorated since its initial grounding. In September, Resolve took the step of sinking the vessel’s stern to prevent it from breaking loose during heavy weather. The wreck later survived a series of storms relatively unscathed in early March, but adverse weather in April resulted in the complete separation of the ship’s damaged hull. Cargo removal concluded in late April with the removal of 33,632 tonnes of steel bars.

Photo of the OS 35 shipwreck taken March 7, 2023. Photo courtesy Gibraltar Port

Authorities approved a salvage plan from TMC Marine for the complete removal of the wreck, carried out by subcontractor Koole Contractors. The Captain of the Port had given the owners and insurers of the vessel until the end of May to complete the wreck removal—a timeline which was ultimately revised.

Preparations for refloating and lifting the OS 35 involved establishing airtight seals in all compartments of the forward and aft sections, lightening the load to be lifted. The aft section was refloated first, followed by lifting the forward section from the seabed using lifting points and chains for stability.

“I’m delighted that we have finally reached this important milestone. I’d like to thank all those who continue to work towards the ultimate goal of the final departure of the OS 35 from Gibraltar’s waters with safety and environmental protection as the top priority,” Minister for the Port, Vijay Daryanani, said.

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.

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