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Opinion & Analysis

Time to lend support, not raise unqualified questions

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

By George Dyke

I have been reading with interest all sorts of comments on the OS 35, via the media and social media, and am surprised to note that I have seen more positive comments from certain quarters in authority in Spain than from some in Gibraltar.

I have to totally agree with the comments made by Mr. Eric Shaw in your article of the 2nd of September 2022 ‘Environmentalists concerned over oil spill impact’, in which he praises the Captain of the Port and his team for the brave decision taken to beach the vessel instead of just instructing it to steam off, which would have undoubtedly seen her sink in the proximity which would have made the situation an even bigger disaster.

I think we can all still recall the tanker Prestige which years ago was refused entry into a port of refuge by the relevant authorities and later broke in two whilst fully loaded with oil, with the repercussions that brought about.

Hats off therefore to our authorities for this decision demonstrating a great sense of responsibility and professionalism in what must have been a very little space of time.

I have personally been involved in several salvage operations in different countries and the first main stumbling block we have often come across to ensure an efficient operation, have been the authorities. No one wants an environmental disaster on their doorstep, but common sense has to prevail and I am sure this has been the safest and best decision taken in this particular case.

People are also commenting about the time it has taken to do this or do that and I am sure that there are real valid reasons for that.

Again from experience I can comment that before any vessel can be moored alongside to remove any fuels or cargo, or even undertake any type of salvage operation for that matter, thorough inspections have to be conducted to ascertain the actual condition or state of the ship.

In a case like this one all breathers and possible outlets from which oil could emanate then have to be blocked and once all these steps are taken and there is the least possible risk that the ship will not sink bringing the moored barge or craft down with it, they can proceed with operations.

Unfortunately, all these things do take time.

There is also talk about the booms being placed earlier. These booms do assist but only to a certain degree as they only really perform effectively in calm waters.

The action when the sea is rough or there is a swell can allow oil to wash over the top of the boom.

It’s skimmers that provide the best option and which I believe were put into use as soon as they were required.

But without any doubt there will be some inevitable unrecoverable quantities that will end up ashore somewhere.

Let’s please not shoot ourselves in our own foot by firing unqualified ideas, further fueling unwanted criticism from parties who are always trigger ready on anything to do with Gibraltar.

And let’s leave the relevant professionals to carry out their work.

George Dyke is a director of Incargo Shipping Services Ltd and has worked in the maritime industry for 43 years.

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