The beached ship. / SUR

Removal of shipwreck takes another step forward as specialist vessels arrive

Work is due to begin in the near future on removing the wreck of the OS35

Debbie Bartlett

Work is due to begin in the near future on removing the wreck of the OS35, the bulk carrier which was beached 700 metres off Catalan Bay in late August after colliding with an LNG carrier while manoeuvering to leave Gibraltar.

The hull of the OS35 crumpled shortly afterwards and a major project ensued to minimise the spillage of fuel, although some beaches and other areas were affected including the Gorham's Cave World Heritage Site. The ship is still surrounded by a boom, although this has to be removed in extreme weather conditions and rough seas.

The Master of the ship, a 53-year-old Syrian national, was detained by Gibraltar police in September and charged with seven offences.

The date of 30 May has been set for completion of the removal of the wreck, and at present the work is expected to remain on schedule despite some delays in the arrival of other vessels which are needed for the removal process.In fact, it is hoped that the OS35 will be out of Gibraltar's waters by early May

The salvage is being handled by Dutch company Koole Contractors and Koole 42, which is a specialist tug, and barge H-283 arrived in Gibraltar from Suriname last weekend. Two others, the Koole 31 and Barge H-10030, will also be involved in removing the wreck.

Whilst waiting for the tugs and barges to arrive, work began on stripping the interior accommodation of the OS35. The Captain of the Port, John Ghio, has said it will take several weeks to remove all the ship's cargo.