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The strategic location of Gibraltar makes it ideally placed to provide a wide range of services to vessels of all sizes and types. One of the services offered is the possibility to carry out Ship to Ship (STS) cargo transfers at anchor. The deep anchorage and sheltered waters of the western anchorage offer an ideal area with minimal deviation from shipping routes where these operations can take place in a safe and regulated environment.

STS operations were originally developed for use in the English Channel in order to lighten very large crude oil tankers (VLCCs) to enable them to reduce their draught sufficiently to make a safe transit of the Channel to Northern European ports such as Rotterdam.

The flexibility and advantage in terms of economies of scale has meant that STS operations have become more common throughout the world, resulting in amendments to the Marpol convention to include provisions for carrying out STS Operations.

Gibraltar has a framework governing STS operations to the standards required by the amendments to the MARPOL Convention, and continues to regulate the activities of licensed STS operators for such operations conducted within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

The Gibraltar Port Authority's STS Operations Code of Practice further enhances the levels of safety provided by the regulatory regime already in place.

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