Oil removal operation considered for tug that sank in Baltic in 1978

The Aranda recently surveyed the southeast side of the Finnish island of Utö as part of a preliminary investigation of the tug Simson, which sank in 1978, with a view to removing the oil still onboard.

The Finnish Environment Institute has been investigating what it deemed a possibly high-risk shipwreck close to the Archipelago National Park. The Simson was built in 1915 and was still in use in the 1970s. The vessel was overhauled in 1971, but sank in 1978, with about 25,000 litres of light fuel oil in its tank.

The aim of the investigation was to 3D model the wreck for further operations and to find out how it could be drained of oil.

The wreck lies partially sunk in the mud at a depth of about 60 metres, which has posed technical challenges. The modelling will be carried out using the hydroacoustic equipment of the marine research vessel and imaging obtained using an ROV diving robot.

If the wreck were to start leaking oil, in average winds the oil would drift towards the Finnish coast and the Archipelago National Park.

If a spillage operation is decided upon, it will be put out to tender and carried out during 2023.

The investigation of the Simson has been part of a wider programme launched by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland to improve water protection from 2019 to 2023. Four wrecks have so far been renovated:

  • dredger Veli off Hanko,
  • dry cargo vessels Hanna-Marjut and Fortuna on the Kihti Gulf,
  • motor vessel Beatris in the sea area of Iniö.