GIBRALTAR authorities have agreed to lower the aft section of the beached OS 35 bulk carrier to the seabed before an incoming storm on the weekend.
Both the Gibraltar Government and its port authority agreed to a heavy weather plan drafted by salvage company Resolve in order to avoid further damage to the ship and pollution at sea.
After removing all loose items from the ship, salvage teams will lower the 105 metre rear part of the ship onto the seabed by flooding cargo hold five.
“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,” Captain of Gibraltar Port John Ghio said.
The bulk carrier has been 700m from Catalan Bay since a collision at the end of August.
In a statement, the government revealed that about three-quarters of the ship are damaged and flooded with water.
Two-thirds of the bulk carrier have already been resting on the sand.
The 73 metre front section of the ship is only held on to the aft by cracked and twisted steel.
“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,” the government said in the statement.
“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,” it added.
Booms will catch any oil that is released from the controlled lowering of the ship.
Tugs will then remove the booms to stop them breaking up in the storm.
Ghio said that the port authorities and the department of the environment ‘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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