FEATURE | Finnish Environment Institute to investigate possible high-risk shipwreck in southern waters

UNMANNED CRAFT WEEK
Aranda (Photo: SYKE)

The Finnish Environment Institute (Suomen ymparistokeskus; SYKE) is investigating a possible high-risk shipwreck southeast of Uto island close to the Archipelago National Park.

The vessel in question is the tug Simson, which built in 1915 and still used in the 1970s. The vessel was overhauled in 1971 but sank in 1978. The wreck is estimated to contain 25,000 litres of light fuel oil.

Wreck to be modeled for further measures

The aim of the investigation is to help create a 3D model of the wreck for further operations and to find out how it could be drained of oil.

The tug lies partially sunk in the mud at a depth of about 60 metres. SYKE said working at this depth poses its own challenges.

ROV being deployed into the waters off Uto (Photo: SYKE)

The modelling will be carried out using the hydroacoustic equipment of the marine research vessel Aranda and imaging with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can be used underwater.

The wreck is located close to a nature reserve. SYKE said that if it were to start leaking oil, in average winds the oil would drift towards the Finnish coast and the Archipelago National Park.

If a spillage operation is decided upon, it will be put out to tender and carried out during 2023.

Twenty high-risk shipwrecks in Finnish territorial waters

The investigation of Simson is part of a programme launched by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment to improve water protection during the 2019 to 2023 timeframe. Four wrecks have so far been renovated as part of the project to investigate the possibilities for wreck renovation: the dredger Veli off Hanko, the dry cargo vessels Hanna-Marjut and Fortuna in the Kihti Gulf, and the motor vessel Beatris in the sea area of Iniö. The responsible organisation for the project is SYKE with support provided by the Finnish Navy and the Finnish Border Guard.

The Border Guard regards these pre-emptive measures as important for the protection of the marine environment. The Border Guard is the leading national authority in operations related to the prevention of maritime environmental damage on the open sea.

Initially, there are estimated to be about two thousand wrecks in Finnish territorial waters. Many of them may still contain significant quantities of oil or other environmentally hazardous substances. There are about a dozen high-risk wrecks that are rusting away or are located near important or sensitive natural sites.

The Water Protection Programme 2019–2023 aims to achieve favourable results in the Baltic Sea and inland waters. The programme will reduce nutrient pollution from agriculture and forestry, clean up oil wrecks, restore water bodies and reduce harmful substances in urban wastewater.

3D model of the sunken tug Simson (Photo: SYKE)

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