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30th August 2022, 00:11

Bulk carrier beached off East Side after collision with LNG tanker

Published by GBC News

A survey inspection by a specialist team of divers this morning has confirmed that the OS 35’s bulbous bow is currently submerged 1.2 metres into the sandy seabed.

The ship is beached on the East Side of the Rock, after it clipped the LNG tanker ADAM LNG as the former was manoeuvring to exit the Bay.

There is significant damage to the vessel’s starboard side, including a gash amidship, below the waterline, measuring approximately ten metres by four metres.

All crew members are safe and well, with no injuries reported, and are remaining on board.

The ship was directed to the East Side by the Port Authority to ensure it could be beached, to minimise the risk to the ship and its crew.

The bow of the vessel is resting on the seabed in 17 metres of water, listing only by three degrees to starboard, around 200 metres off Catalan Bay.

Number Six says the crew of 24 remain onboard, at the request of the Captain of the vessel, although the ship is ready to be evacuated if necessary.

Tugs were deployed, and around 400 metres of boom are available on scene ready to be deployed around the vessel in the event of an oil spill.

The OS 35 is flagged in Tuvalu and is presently loaded with steel rebars.

It is loaded with 183 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 250 tonnes of diesel and 27 tonnes of lube oil and was leaving Gibraltar to head to Vlissengen in the Netherlands;

The Port Authority is continuously reviewing the situation, with the Contingency Council convened and the Governor, Chief Minister and Minister for the Port being briefed by the Captain of the Port.

The vessel ADAM LNG appears to have suffered no significant damage, except for a superficial dent to its bulbous bow.

No injuries have been reported among the crew and there has been no water ingress.

This has been confirmed by divers and by an internal survey. 

A specialist team of marine salvers from the Netherlands, is due to arrive in Gibraltar early on Tuesday afternoon to conduct a full on-site assessment Immediately on their arrival.

The Government is advised that weather conditions are forecast to be good in the coming days, which will assist in operations moving forward.

The Port of Algeciras is working in close coordination with the Gibraltar Port Authority, the tug Luz de Mar and the Salvamar Denebola is at the location. Algeciras has also been authorised to deploy assets including a Salvamento Maritimo helicopter, to undertake an aerial survey of the OS 35.

All port operations were suspended by the port Authority for around 4 hours and the Port fully reopened this morning for all activity.

A notice to mariners has been issued with a 200m exclusion zone already in place around the OS 35. This will remain in force until further notice.

All port operations were suspended by the Port Authority for approximately 4 hours and the Gibraltar Port has now fully reopened for all activity.

Methods to refloat the OS 35 will now be looked into, the Chief Minister told GBC. Fabian Picardo said this assessment would have to take into account whether the ship would eventually be able to sail away away on its own power - determining whether its fuel should be left in place or removed. He said this decision will be made by the Port Authority and Captain in consultation with the marine salvage team. Fabian Picardo said the ship's hull had been prised open, with its cargo of steel rebars exposed. He said refloating the ship would mean this gash would have to be closed.

With regards to the Adam LNG, Mr Picardo said an external inspection had shown no significant damage, adding the public could be reassured as regards safety.

In response to GBC questions about the Port's monitoring of the ships' movements prior to their collision, Mr Picardo said the Port was involved in seeking to ensure they did not get close. he said all video and audio was preserved, to learn lessons and, if necessary, take action - adding an investigation is already underway.

Mr Picardo said that as part of the Spanish authorities' involvement in the operation, a helicopter from Algeciras had been authorised to fly to low to confirm logistic realities on and around the vessel, adding a drone will also be deployed.

The Chief Minister said the 24 crewmembers were remaining onboard because the Captain considers it to be safe - adding should this change, the Captain of the Port is confident that they can be taken off the OS 35 in time. 

He reminded mariners not to approach the vessel at a distance less than 200 metres.

OPPOSITION RESPONSE TO INCIDENT

For his part, the Leader of the Opposition says while there will need to be a full investigation as to the causes of the collision, the immediate focus must now be on containment.

Keith Azopardi says the worry is whether any risks of pollution are prevented, or - if there is any pollution - that it's contained and minimised to avoid any negative impact on the marine environment and coastline.

He said the GSD will continue to monitor developments.