Andy Liddell of MOD’s Salvage & Marine Operations division has today reported that work to remove oil from the RFA Darkdale wreck in James’ Bay is now largely completed.
“During the last week, we have completed the majority of the work on the RFA Darkdale, leaving only one tank left to complete. This week’s work has included installing valves on the smaller, more difficult to access tanks on the deepest parts of the wreck, near the stern. The dive team has had to work at 40m depths to construct scaffolding on the wreck to allow us to work on the vertical side of the ship. Work on the stern section has now been completed and the scaffolding removed.
“As we have removed the oil and disturbed the wreck, there has been some minor oil leakage causing a sheen of oil on the surface, visible from the shore, which I realise has caused some concern. What we have found is that on the stern section of the wreck where the corrosion if thicker, there is a layer of oil trapped between the steel of the hull and the corrosion. This is oil that has slowly leaked out of the wreck over the past 74 years – but the corrosion has trapped it on the wreck. As we have cleaned the hull to allow us to install the valves, this oil has been released and come to the surface. But we have now completed all the work in this area, so we will not be disturbing this layer any further.
“The current total of oil removed from the RFA Darkdale wreck is approximately 1700 cubic metres.
“The final tank to have its contents removed is an aviation petrol tank and we are waiting for some equipment to arrive on this voyage of the RMS St Helena to help us with this task. Once we have completed work on this final tank and recovered our moorings, all three ships will depart St Helena for Cape Town – expected to be on this Thursday, 13 August 2015.”
Two photos accompany this release.
11 August 2015