Salvage operation to remove OS 35 underway

Salvage operations have commenced off Gibraltar to remove the wreck of bulk carrier OS 35 (IMO 9172399).

The port approved a salvage plan late in 2022, but there have been some weather-related delays.

The OS 35 was intentionally grounded and later sunk after a collision with another vessel while outbound from the port on August 29th last year.

Anchor handling tug Koole 42, along with Barge H-283, arrived in Gibraltar early in January from Suriname. After the completion of initial preparations they were positioned alongside the OS 35, which is sitting on the sandy bottom. Port officials said last week that work had started with the removal of the first two of the four boom cranes aboard the vessel. They were still working to remove two additional booms so that they would be able to gain access to the cargo holds.

Later in the week port officials said that the salvors had been able to open the cargo hatches and the first phase of the salvage operation was fully underway. This phase is focusing on removing and then recycling the cargo, which consists of a load of 33,632 tons of steel bars. Salvage crews had already stripped much of the interior of the ship, and had removed equipment and worked to capture residual amounts of oil on board.

Tug Koole 31 towing barge K10030 successfully departed Brest, France, on January 20th. The vessel had been waiting in the French port due to bad weather before heading to Gibraltar to join the salvage operation.

The Captain of the Port’s office said that the Koole 31 was expected to arrive, with a second barge, before the end of the month, weather permitting.

Dutch salvage firm Koole Contractors is managing the operation. After the cargo is removed the plan is to complete the separation of the vessel into two sections.

The OS 35 partially broke after the grounding and the port decided with the salvage team to sink the stern to prevent an uncontrolled break. The salvage plan calls for completing the separation and then lifting the sections onto the barges, one at a time, for removal and recycling.

Gibraltar’s authorities are continuing to say they believe that a completion deadline of May 30th for the removal of the ship and its contents can be met.

1999-built, Tuvalu-flagged, 20,947 gt OS 35 is owned by Oldstone Cargo Ltd care of Oldstone Management Ltd of Piraeus, Greece. At the time of the accident it was entered with British Marine on behalf of Oldstone Cargo Ltd.