Castillo de Salas (ship)

Coordinates: 43°33′20″N 5°39′40″W / 43.55556°N 5.66111°W / 43.55556; -5.66111

Castillo de Salas was a Spanish bulk carrier that was launched in Ferrol on 20 December 1979 and completed in August 1980. It measured over 50,000 gross tons, and had a deadweight of over 100,000 tons, measured approximately 250 metres (820 ft) in length, 40 metres (130 ft) across the beam, and 14.5 metres (48 ft) in draft. It required a crew complement of 32.

NameCastillo de Salas
OwnerEmpresa Nacional Elcano
BuilderAstilleros y Talleres del Noroeste (ASTANO), Fene, Galicia
Launched20 December 1979
IdentificationIMO number7624192
FateWrecked, 11 January 1986
General characteristics [1]
TypeBulk carrier
Length261.43 m (857 ft 9 in)
Beam40 m (131 ft 3 in)
Depth20 m (65 ft 7 in)
PropulsionSulzer 7RND90 diesel engine, 20,300 hp (15,138 kW)

Wreck and salvageEdit

During the morning of 11 January 1986 Castillo de Salas, owned by the Spanish company Elcano,[1] ran aground over rocks 740 metres (2,430 ft) north northwest of Gijón. The ship was anchored outside Gijón's seaport (El Musel) when the ship's anchor came loose in bad weather. Efforts to re-anchor, self-propel and even tow the ship away from the coast failed due to harsh seas. The cargo was nearly 100,000 metric tons (98,000 long tons; 110,000 short tons) of coal loaded in Norfolk, Virginia as well as over 1,000 tonnes (980 long tons; 1,100 short tons) of fuel oil used for propulsion. On 15 January 1986 the hull broke in two during efforts to bring the ship afloat, therefore releasing a spill of diesel oil and coal ore.

On 23 February 1986 the bow half of the hull was refloated, towed 63 kilometres (39 mi) into the sea and scuttled in waters of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) in depth. Officials stated that no diesel oil was left in the bow section of the hull. During the following spring, the company Fondomar was tasked with salvaging the remainder of the stern portion of the hull.[2]

Second salvage of the stern sectionEdit

Small balls of decomposed oil were found sporadically since until 2001, when a major find of these balls was confirmed to be from fuel remaining in the double bottom fuel tank of the stern section that was not removed in 1986. This led to a second salvage operation to remove the fuel during 2001–2002[3] and the complete the removal of the remainder of the wreck in 2003 due to public out-cry.[4][5][6]


"Memoria", by Joaquín Rubio Camín

On 15 November 2003 Gijón artist Joaquín Rubio Camín's sculpture "Memoria" (Memory) was unveiled on the Camino del Cervigón overlooking the sea. The sculpture was made using part of the remains of Castillo de Salas which sank off Gijón and were recovered earlier in the year.[7][8][9]

One of the ship's anchors is displayed in the Philippe Cousteau Anchor Museum in Salinas beach, Spain, 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Gijón.[10]

Side effectsEdit

Since the incident, it is common to find dark sand contaminated with coal on the beaches in the Bay of Gijón, particularly after rough sea conditions. The amounts recovered continue to reduce over time, but patches of dark coloured sand, high in black coal particles, can be seen at low tide.[9][11][12]


  1. ^ a b "Empresa Nacional Elcano". 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  2. ^ Gloria López Gamallo. "Castillo de Salas 1986-2003" (PDF). Spanish Maritime Safety Agency.
  3. ^ Gárate Hormaza, Francisco Javier (2001-09-12). "Contaminación de la playa de San Lorenzo de Gijón (Asturias) procedente de los restos del buque «Castillo de Salas», que embarrancó en dicha bahía en el año 1986" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado, BOE (Spanish). Vol. 229. Ministerio de Fomento (Spanish Government) (published 2002-09-24). pp. 7706–7707. 2002/229031.
  4. ^ "Spill of Castillo de Salas". Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution.
  5. ^ "El hermano pequeño del 'Prestige'" (in Spanish). El Mundo.
  6. ^ Llamazares Trigo, Gaspar (2001-09-11). "Contaminación de la playa de San Lorenzo de Gijón (Asturias) procedente de los restos del buque «Castillo de Salas», que embarrancó en dicha bahía en el año 1986" (PDF). Boletín oficial de las cortes generales (Spanish) (in Spanish). Vol. 237. Spanish Senate (published 2001-09-27). p. 26.
  7. ^ "Shipwreck sculpture unveiled". ThinkSpain.
  8. ^ "Castillo de Salas" (in Spanish). Escultura Urbana. Archived from the original on 2007-08-26.
  9. ^ a b "Castillo de Salas - Una incómoda zapatilla" (in Spanish). Mas Mar. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
  10. ^ "Ancla del Castillo de Salas (1.980 — 1.986)" (in Spanish). Museo de Anclas Philippe Cousteau. Archived from the original on 2009-12-25. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
  11. ^ "La Columna - Castillo de Salas" (in Spanish). El Comercio.
  12. ^ "El carbón del Castillo de Salas vuelve a la playa" (in Spanish). La voz de Asturias. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit