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OS 35 – GPA and HMGoG agree to implement Resolve’s Heavy Weather Plan

15 Sep 2022

OS 35 – GPA and HMGoG agree to implement Resolve’s Heavy Weather Plan Image

Although the Government is not issuing statements on political matters  until the official period of mourning for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is over, the following is issued for information:

OS 35 – GPA and HMGoG agree to implement Resolve’s Heavy Weather Plan

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 an independent 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 action to secure the vessel in place as far as possible,  minimise the potential for pollution and give the salvors 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 an aft section of 105m long. The 2 sections are still connected together by cracked, bent and buckled steel. However,  the structural integrity of the hull has totally failed.
Approximately, the forward three-quarters of the ship are damaged and  flooded with water. Its position in shallow water means that the forward  two-thirds of the ship are resting heavily on the sandy seabed.
The aft section, where there is added buoyancy from the dry cargo hold  5 and engine room, is still lifted from the seabed by several meters. This section is light enough to be moved and twisted by the 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 that it could suffer further damage and risk  pollution from unpumpable fuel residues and debris from furniture 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 in the aft section being moved in an  uncontrolled manner to a position that makes further salvage and 
recovery operations more technically difficult and less efficient.

Resolve’s Heavy Weather Plan involves lowering the aft section of the OS 35 in a controlled manner so 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  sea swell, tide and wind.
This will prevent further damage to the vessel and protect the  environment as far as possible from potential pollution from unpumpable fuel residues and debris. The risk of pollution can never be eliminated entirely.
Stabilising the aft section provides the salvors with the best possible  chance of continuing with the recovery 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. 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’.

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Thank you!