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

Photos: Gibraltar Shipwreck Survives Heavy Weather and Waves

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3250
September 19, 2022

It seems salvors’ plan to sink the OS 35’s stern in order to stablize the wreck ahead of inclement weather has worked. Unfornunately new oil sheening has now been reported and work is underway to mitigate the impacts.

I say “seems” because Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, remains in a 10-day National Mourning period following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II during which only minimal government services, including press updates, have been made available. With her funeral taking place Monday, the mourning period is set to expire at end of day—so we should learning more soon.

One exception was last week’s announcement from the Gibraltar Port Authority that government authorities had approved salvor Resolve Marine’s heavy weather plan for the OS 35 shipwreck off the east coast of the city.

The plan involed a controlled sinking of the wreck’s stern, recommended as the best course of action for minimizing environmental impacts during a period of heavy weather and stronger swell expected in Gibraltar Sunday and Monday.

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

As we reported last week, OS 35 is currently broken into two sections; the 73-meter-long forward section which is firmly planted on the seabed and an aft section, measuring 105 meters, which had remained afloat and connected by twisted metal. The fear was that the swell could cause stern section to break loose, causing even greater environmental damage and a more challenging situation for the salvage operation moving forward.

While the Gibraltar Port Authority’s latest release on Friday said some tar balls had been observed in the vicinity of Catalan Bay, where the wreck sits, clean-up crews were on site to collect them and clean up the area. A previously reported, all recoverable oil has already been removed from the vessel, leaving only residual amounts in the tanks.

Unfornately new oil sheens are being reported in the aftermath of the storm. The Gibraltar Port Authority this was expected considering small amounts of unpumpable residual oil remain in the tanks. Responders also had to remove the boom around the vessel ahead of the inclement weather, as to not damage the equipment. The boom could not be put back in place in time to contain the latest leaks.

Some photos of the OS 35 taken Monday, September 19, and shared with gCaptain shows the wreck with its stern sunk. The photo below shows OS 35 on September 19 with its stern resting on the seabed:

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

Below is the OS 35 pictured on August 31, with its stern still afloat and much calmer conditions:

OS 35 pictured August 31, 2022. Photo courtesy Gibraltar Port Authority

With waves forecasted to decrease over the coming days, it seems the stern section has survived the storm, but we’ll update once we receive official confirmation.

Background

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

Prior to breaking in two, survey inspections confirmed a gash in the OS 35’s amidships measuring approximately 10 meters by 4 meters on the starboard side.

The Adam LNG, which is registered in the Marshall Islands, sustained only minimal damage. No injuries were reported on either vessel.

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