Andy Liddell of MOD’s Salvage & Marine Operations division has today said that work to remove oil from the RFA Darkdale wreck in James’ Bay using the hot tapping process is going well – and is now progressing very quickly.

Andy reported:   

“The Darkdale project had a minor setback with a valve failing to seal last Monday.  The valve in question was on tank 5 Port and the problem was resolved by installing a second valve on the tank and removing all the oil that could be pumped – approximately 50 cubic metres. This tank has been regularly monitored by divers and a remotely operated vehicle and there is no oil leak from this tank now.

“We have made rapid progress over the last week – with the vast majority of the valves now in place, including all the valves on the major tanks.  This leaves only a few valves to install on the smaller, more difficult to access tanks.   

“We started pumping oil off the wreck last Monday and have been working 24 hours a day to remove the oil since then.  So far we have completed pumping on 14 of the 23 tanks, removing approximately 1500 cubic metres of oil from the wreck. 

“The recovered oil has initially been pumped on to the Pacific Dolphin before being transferred to the Pacific Supporter and then finally to the tanker, the Golden Oak.  This process of transferring oil from ship to ship allows us to keep pumping continually.

“At the current rate, we expect to have completed our work on the Darkdale by roughly Monday 10 August. Naturally, the exact finish time is dependent upon how much oil is contained in the remaining tanks. 

“Once we have finished, we will recover our moorings and equipment from the seabed and will sail for Cape Town shortly after that.”


3 August 2015


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