The transfer of about 1.1m barrels of oil from the FSO Safer to the Nautica (IMO 9323948) has begun, the UN said on Tuesday July 25th. The Safer has been slowly decaying for many years a few miles off the coast of Yemen amid disputes as to the ownership of the oil on board.
The war in Yemen had resulted in caused the suspension in 2015 of maintenance operations on the Safer, which has been moored off Yemen for more than 30 years.
Its structural integrity has deteriorated significantly. “In the absence of anyone else willing or able to perform this task, the United Nations stepped up and assumed the risk to conduct this very delicate operation,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, adding that “the ship-to-ship transfer of oil which has started today is the critical next step in avoiding an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe on a colossal scale.” The oil transfer is expected to take 19 days to complete, the UNDP said.
The salvors moored the lighter tanker Nautica alongside on July 22nd – the completion of the month-long preparatory phase to start the ship-to-ship transfer of oil. There is a small flotilla of technical and supply vessels on hand to avoid missteps during the operation. The Nautica was reported to have been renamed the Yemen, although none of the official databases reflect any change.