Video: Salvage Team Reports Progress at Derelict FSO Safer

FSO Safer salvage
A team from Boskalis' SMIT Salvage is now aboard the FSO Safer off Yemen (pictures and video courtesy of Boskalis)

Published Jun 9, 2023 12:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

Twelve days after arriving at the FSO Safer, the salvage team from Boskalis’ SMIT Salvage reports they are making progress with the plan to prepare the vessel for the ship-to-ship oil transfer. During the first phase of the UN-sponsored effort, the team is working to survey the vessel and stabilize it before the transfer can begin. The FSO Safer is positioned approximately 4.6 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen.

Boskalis is providing weekly updates on the progress reporting its team was able to board the FSO Safer for the first time on May 31. The first steps included taking gas measurements to assess the level of toxic gas in and around the vessel and to conduct the first visual inspections. The SMIT team declared the FSO “safe to access,” permitting the work to begin.

Initially, the salvage vessel Ndeavor was held at a distance but they have now put the vessel alongside. A mobile fixed staircase was built to facilitate access between the two vessels. The tanker Nautica acquired by the United Nations from Euronav remains in Djibouti until the Safer has been fully stabilized and prepared for the transfer.


Ndeavor berths alongside Safer - inspections and preparations continue 4K_copyright Boskalis from Boskalis on Vimeo.


The SMIT team continues its inspections both of the hull and the deck machinery. As part of the preparations, the inspection of the manifold aboard the FSO Safer is now also underway. 

One of the key concerns is that the tanks aboard the Safer have not been properly vented and its gas system is inoperable. The level of oxygen and other flammable gases in each of the oil tank compartments must be reduced by pumping inert gas into the compartments before the tanks can be declared safe for the ship-to-ship transfer of the oil. 


The salvage team continues the inspections of the FSO Safer (Boskalis)


The salvage team reports that portable inert gas generators have been transferred from the Ndeavor to the Safer. Once the inspections are completed, the plan calls for using the generator to stabilize the tanks aboard the Safer which currently hold over 1.1 million barrels of crude oil.

The plan summary released by Boskalis projected that this phase of the operation would require approximately 16 days. Once the tanks aboard the Safer are declared safe, the plan calls for bringing the Nautica alongside to complete the preparations for the ship-to-ship transfer. The transfer is projected to require 19 days and an additional 17 days is projected for a final clean-up preparing the FSO Safer for removal.


Salvage vessel is now berthed alongside the FSO Safer (Boskalis)