In a critical operation to prevent an environmental catastrophe, the transfer of oil from the deteriorating FSO Safer to the Nautica VLCC has commenced, as seen in an image from Planet Lab. The initiative, overseen by the United Nations and funded by governments and businesses worldwide, aims to remove approximately 1.1 million barrels of crude oil from the FSO Safer.
Greenpeace has highlighted the role of "heroic efforts" by a small skeleton crew and a stroke of luck in preventing a disaster thus far. The operation involves ship-to-ship transfers, with Boskalis' SMIT Salvage leading the efforts. Prior to the transfer, inspections, equipment reinstatements, and underwater hull inspections were conducted on the FSO Safer. Additionally, Smit Lamnalco tugs were deployed, and preventive measures like installing oil booms were implemented to mitigate spill risks.
Euronav, having sold the Nautica to the UN, handed over the vessel, which has since been renamed Yemen, on July 17. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is providing technical support, and a crisis management specialist is present onsite to manage potential challenges during the transfer.
Given the potential risks involved in such an operation, the smooth and successful completion of this oil transfer is of utmost importance to safeguard the fragile marine ecosystem in the region.