WRECK removers are getting ready to lift the two broken sections of the OS 35 from the Gibraltar seabed after easterly winds again delayed the salvage operation.
Captain of the Port John Ghio confirmed that ‘all preparations for the final stages of the removal’ of the shipwreck lying 700 metres from Catalan Bay were complete.
He said Monday ‘the contractors are on 24 hour standby for the operations to begin’ with barges and a semi-submersible ship ready to bring the shipwreck out of the water.
Only a new spell of easterly Levante winds and waves wrecked the original plans for the wreck removal.
Gibraltar’s government said that while the waves would be ‘relatively mild’ they could pose a safety risk and disturb the oil protecting barrier used to catch any leaks.
Although on Tuesday, the wave size had dropped to just half a metre, the light easterly winds are set to continue until Friday when they change to westerly breezes.
Once the situation settles, the workers will be able to set up all the booms to get ready for the final lifting operation.
The government described how the contractors had made ‘meticulous preparations’ to carry out ‘a robust spill response plan’.
The Gibraltar Port Authority and the Department of the Environment prepared the plan to stop any leaking oil reaching the beaches.
Government agencies will increase their presence during the lifting operation although they will not be closing the port.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their patience and understanding throughout these delicate last phases of the wreck removal process,” Ghio said.
“We are taking into account multiple weather forecasts and are working closely with the contractors and stakeholders to work to the first available weather window.
“As always, this is a dynamic operation and we will continue to provide regular updates as soon as we are able.”
The OS 35 bulk carrier ran aground at Eastern Beach on August 29 after it hit another ship as it left the Bay of Gibraltar.
The ten-metre gash grew during various serious storms, finally breaking the ship completely in two pieces.
Conservationists The Nautilus Project have rued a number of spills that stained beaches and hurt marine life ‘for over a decade’
- ‘HEARTBREAKING’: Nautilus Project chief says OS 35 oil spill was ‘extremely detrimental’ to Gibraltar
- Contractors give new date of June 16 for full removal of OS 35 shipwreck off Gibraltar’s coast
- Workers clean up three Gibraltar beaches stained by fuel oil leak after beached ship breaks in two