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MAJOR INCIDENT - VESSEL "OS 35" - UPDATE 01/09/22, 22:00

31 Aug 2022

MAJOR INCIDENT - VESSEL "OS 35" - UPDATE 01/09/22, 22:00 Image


The situation surrounding OS 35 has remained stable throughout the  evening which will allow the pumping out of diesel to continue overnight.


Latest indications at the time of publication of this statement report 112  cubic metres of diesel have now been pumped out of the vessel, almost half of the load in the diesel fuel load in the vessel’s tanks.

The boom at Catalan Bay has now been installed to preserve the beach’s shoreline.
HMGoG would like to thank to the Ministry of Defence for providing this  boom, which will be helpful in proving extra protection for an area so  important to the people of Gibraltar.

Continuous monitoring will be in place throughout the night including  drone and land based thermal imagining.

The general public are reminded to be vigilant and report any sightings  of species in distress to the Ministry of Environment on 58009620.

HMGoG expects to issue an update at 08:00hrs tomorrow and the  Gibraltar Contingency Council will convene at 12:30pm.



OS 35 UPDATE – 20:00HRS

The Gibraltar Contingency Council convened again this evening at No 6 Convent Place.

The Captain of the Port John Ghio updated the group, chaired by the  Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Governor Vice Admiral Sir David  Steel, on this afternoon’s developments. Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, Minister for the Environment Dr John Cortes and Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani were also in attendance.

As of 5:30 this afternoon, 42 cubic metres of diesel had been pumped out of the OS 35 vessel by the salvage team. It is expected that most of  the diesel will be pumped out by tomorrow morning as the advice received by the Captain of the Port suggests it will be possible to continue operations overnight. Latest indications at time of publication of this statement report 53 cubic metres of diesel have now been pumped out of the vessel, approximately one fifth of the load in the vessel’s tanks.

Although there is still a visible amount of low sulphur fuel oil on the East Side, approximately half of the amount leaked this morning has been collected by booms and subsequently pumped into tanks.

There are currently three levels of containment working against the current with J formation booms at different points on the East Side to corral the oil.
Analysis from today shows that although this has been a significant leak,  the consistency of the low sulphur fuel oil is lighter than during  other incidents which have occurred in the Bay and this means it should be easier to dissipate and clean if any of the fuel oil reaches our shorelines.

An additional boom has been provided by the MOD and has been  deployed to set up in Catalan Bay to protect the shoreline from the low  sulphur fuel oil leak or any other potential leaks.
As a precautionary measure, booms have also been deployed to protect  the salt-water intakes at Little Bay and prevent any potential risk to our  water infrastructure.

The Department of the Environment is asking the general public to be  vigilant and report any sightings of species in distress to tel 58009620.



OS 35 Update – Operation to pump out diesel oil begins

The Gibraltar Port Authority has confirmed that it has begun to pump diesel out of the OS 35 and in to the slops barge that has successfully been brought alongside.

Parallel operations working towards the pumping out of fuel oil are ongoing.

Simultaneously, a skimmer has been deployed and is successfully removing the fuel oil that is contained within the boom.



OS 35 – 2:00pm update (1st September)

The Gibraltar Contingency Council met again at 12:30pm this afternoon following the discovery of an oil leak from the vessel OS 35. The GCC was jointly chaired by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and the Governor Vice Admiral Sir David Steel. The Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia, Minister for the Environment John Cortes and Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani also attended.

The Captain of the Port confirmed that the leak of low sulphur fuel oil from the tank vents is fully under control.
• The priority is to corral and collect the free floating oil that has escaped the boom, as well as 
to remove the oil that has remained contained inside the boom.
• Both the GPA launch and the Luz de Mar from Salvamento Maritimo have deployed booms in J formation to corral the free floating oil. Both vessels are working in close cooperation with each other.
• A further 2 GPA vessels with J formation booms are en route to the scene.
• Skimmers have been deployed on board the OS 35 to collect the oil contained inside the boom.
• Skimmers have also been sent to the J formation vessels to begin to skim the oil that they corral.
• Booms have been identified to provide an additional line of protection to Catalan Bay, and also for placement on the Eastside Reclamation and on the groyne of Sandy Bay. It is hoped that these can be in place today as deployment is complex.

The GPA slops barge will be taken alongside to the Port side of the vessel, hopefully within the  next hour.

The GPA is ramping up its efforts to begin to pump the fuel oil from the vessel. The timeline of this will not be known until the OS 35’s machinery can be mobilised. All other options for the removal of this fuel from the vessel are being actively explored.
The same slops barge will also be used to remove the diesel and lube oil from the OS 35. This will begin as soon as possible, and in parallel with the operation to remove the low sulphur fuel oil.
Further updates will be provided as soon as the removal of the oils begins.
There are no realistic options for pumping the fuel out of the vessel sooner.

The Gibraltar Port remains closed in order to focus all its operational capacity on dealing with this emergency. However, some operations that have no impact on the Port’s resources necessary to be able to manage the emergency, for example the arrival of a cruise ship today,  have been allowed to go ahead as planned.
The Gibraltar Contingency Council will reconvene at 6pm today or sooner if necessary.
Further updates will be provided as operationally necessary. All information available to the Government is made available to the public as soon as possible.



OS 35 Update – 12:00pm – GPA dealing with leaked oil

The Gibraltar Port Authority has confirmed a leak of heavy fuel oil a small amount of which has escaped the perimeter of the boom.

The salvage team onboard have identified the source of this leak to two tank vents from the vessel’s bunker tanks. All vents had previously been sealed, but the seal of two vents became loose on the crumpling of the vessel.

Divers on scene have been able to re-establish the seals, so the GPA is in the process of stopping the release of oil from the vents.

The Gibraltar Port Authority J formation and the Salvamento Maritimo Luz de Mar are both downstream from the vessel collecting the free floating oil that has already vented.

Skimmers are currently being deployed onboard to start collecting what is inside the boom.

Both the GPA and the Luz de Mar will also deploy sorbent booms.

The slops barge will be brought alongside the OS 35 shortly to begin to pump out its fuel.



OS 35 - Overnight update

Overnight the situation has remained stable. Continuous monitoring has been in place throughout the night, with presence on-scene by anti-pollution assets. Additional monitoring by drone and land based thermal imaging assets have revealed no significant changes to the situation.

The Salvage team is onboard the vessel to continue assessing and planning the way forward, and divers will be in attendance shortly to conduct external hull survey.

During the course of the morning, the Gibraltar Port Authority will continue with deployments of equipment and preparations for further operations.

Port operations at present remain suspended.

The Gibraltar Contingency Council will convene at 12:30pm and further updates will be provided as the situation develops.


OS 35 – 22:30 UPDATE

The Gibraltar Contingency Council convened again tonight at No 6 Convent Place.

The Captain of the Port John Ghio updated the group, chaired by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo
and the Governor Vice Admiral Sir David Steel on the evening’s developments. Minister for the
Environment John Cortes and Minister for the Port Vijay Daryanani were also in attendance. The
Deputy Chief Minister and the Minister for Civil Contingencies attended by video call.

The indications are that it is probable that the vessel has not broken apart as such, but has crumpled.

The first concern is the offloading of the amount low sulphur heavy fuel oil onboard as soon as
possible, followed by diesel and then lube oil. The fuel will now be dealt with as waste and will likely be sent for recycling.

Current evidence suggests that the fuel onboard is well contained and it is hoped that offloading
can begin tomorrow morning.

The public should be reassured that there has been no way to remove the fuels in question from
the vessel any sooner in a manner that was not a risk to the environment. If such an option had
been available with any resources at hand in the area, it would have been taken.

The ongoing plans to remove the oil are the best possible plans for removal of the fuels in question in a manner that is clean and will not risk lasting environmental damage to Catalan Bay, our wider coast or the our neighbour’s coasts.

The boom in place on the port side of the vessel’s hull is being separated from the hull to avoid any potential oil seeping outside.

A further inflatable boom will be deployed tonight in J formation to collate any oil that may seep

At least 3 further booms will be ready to be deployed in J formations by tomorrow. A foam-filled
boom will be placed at Catalan Bay as a tertiary precautionary measure to protect the beach.

Additional oil spill equipment has been procured from the UK and is expected to arrive in Gibraltar on Sunday.

The Department of Environment has staff qualified in oil spill response on standby to manage any

Environmental sensibility mapping is underway to determine the most placements for preventive
booms along Gibraltar’s coastline and to protect both Gibraltar’s beaches and those in
neighbouring Spain.

As a result of the further break experienced this afternoon, the salvage of the hull of the OS 35 is
now likely to require a longer term plan.

The timeframe for this is now likely extended past the previous expectation of a few weeks.

The floating of the vessel by installing a cofferdam is likely no longer a viable option for its salvage.

These issues will, however, not be clarified until a dive team is able to inspect the damage in the

There will be a blue-light presence on the water to provide security overnight.
The salvage master and P&I will board the vessel.
A dive team will conduct an external survey and determine the extent of any break.
It is hoped that it will be possible to begin to pump out fuel from the vessel.

The Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, has been in contact with the Chief Minister to offer UK support for the operations if necessary. The Chief Minister has expressed the gratitude of the
People of Gibraltar to Ms Truss who has taken time out from the last throes of the Conservative
leadership election to be in contact with the Chief Minister.



The Gibraltar Contingency Council, chaired by the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, and the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, has met to discuss the break of the Bulk Carrier OS 35.

Given the latest development affecting the vessel and the fact that it remains loaded with fuel, on the advice of the Captain of the Port and the other members of the GCC, a Major Incident (MAJAX) has now been declared under the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act.

It is important to note that Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and its partner agencies have been working towards this posture throughout.
MAJAX has now been officially declared to allow for all available resources to be directed to dealing with this emergency.

All other day-to-day operations at Gibraltar Port have been stopped to ensure availability of resources.

As a result:
• all GPA service craft are on standby;
• all booms at the GPA’s disposal have been mobilised;
• 2 vessels will be deployed in U formations with booms to start  corralling any oil that might spill from the vessel and that might leak from the primary boom;
• an additional boom will be deployed along the coastline that is at risk of direct impact;
• the salvage master has been authorised by the Captain of the Port to re-board the vessel to gather facts, together with the P&I on-scene commander.

There has been a substance leak from the vessel as a result of the movement arising from its break. Initial investigations indicate that this is lube oil. This lube oil is currently contained within the primary boom and all efforts will be made to remove it from the sea using a skimmer and sludge barge before it is able to leak from within the boom.

The salvage master has confirmed to the Captain of the Port that all fuel valves were isolated before the break occurred.

The priority of the Captain of the Port and of the Government of Gibraltar is to mitigate and minimise any environmental impact.

The Captain of the Port of Algeciras has been briefed and the Salvamento Maritimo helicopter is conducting a flyover at 8:00pm. Other Salvamento Maritimo assets are assisting also.

The Chief Minister has briefed the Leader of the Opposition on the latest developments and the declaration of the Major Incident. The Chief Minister has also briefed the President of the Junta de Andalucia, Snr Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, the President of the Cadiz Deputacion and Mayor of San Roque Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix, and the Mayor of La Linea, Juan Franco.

The Gibraltar Contingency Council will reconvene at 9pm this evening or sooner if required.

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Thank you!