Hazardous Oil Spills

Fergana Valley- March 1992

Location: Uzbekistan
Gallons: 87.7 millionHow It Happened:
Nearly 88 million gallons of oil spilled from an oil well in Fergana Valley, one of Uzbekistans’s most active energy- and oil-refining areas. While the spill didn’t get much press at the time, it is the largest inland spill ever reported.The Cleanup:
The ground absorbed this spill, leaving nothing for cleaning crews to tackle.Read more: 10 Biggest Oil Spills in History – Fergana Valley, 1992 – Popular Mechanics

The area is mostly based in agriculture, but has been producing oil since 1908 and continues to be one of the most active energy and oil refining centers in Uzbekistan. The US Department of Energy estimates that prior to the spill there was about 4.5 billion barrels of oil in the Fergana basin.


Russian Landscape of Oil Spills
Photo courtesy of the Usinsk Chamber of Commerce

Near the Arctic Circle in Russia, you might expect to find vast landscapes of conifer forest or tundra inhabited by reindeer interspersed by crystal clear lakes and streams full of fish. But that’s not what you find in the wasteland of the Russian oil territory, a vast zone described by scientists as the worst ecological disaster on Earth.

In the province of Komi,a 415,900 square kilometers (160,600 sq mi) region in which oil slicks outnumber people, the reality is endless expanses of shallow crude spills and deep ponds where nothing lives. The bedraggled gray trees, such as they are, are struggling to survive in a soil that is soaked in crude oil. There is no wildlife.

In 1994, Komi was the scene of Russia’s largest oil spill when an estimated 100,000 tons of crude shot out from an beat up old pipeline. The spill killed plants, animals and fish, and permanently contaminated 40 kilometers of two local rivers. In nearbv villages, respiratory diseases rose by some 28 percent in the year following the leak.

The oil town of Usinsk sits in the middle of this ongoing disaster, a post doomsday tangle of broken down wells and abandoned equipment rusting in the dim light of the far northern sun.

Komi Republic Oil Spills
The Russians don’t mess around when they decide to get toxic

The sheer numbers make the Deepwater Horizon and even Royal Dutch Shell’s yearly effort in Nigeria pale by comparison. According to those who study these disasters, about 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. About half a million tones leaks out into rivers and streams and it all ends up in the Arctic. No one sees it there and there are no oil eating bacteria to reduce the impact, as was the case in the Gulf of Mexico (the ExxonValdez mess is still very much with us).

Although Usinsk and Komi Province is the heartland of the catastrophe, the problem extends to a far greater area. Russian oil spills occur daily (most unreported) in an area that covers from the Black Sea north to the Arctic and east to the Chinese border. We don’t know what goes on past the Chinese border, but it isn’t good.

The Russian ministries you might think are responsible for working on this kind of problem say that other ministries are responsible…go ask them. The Russian oil companies have something in common with the ministries: neither of them gives a rat’s ass. Under Russian law, leaks of less than 8 tons are classified as “incidents” and carry no penalties.

So the situation in the Russian oil patch, as unimaginably bad as it is, is just going to get worse as the Arctic oil rush begins.

Welcome to the Toxic Apocalypse.

Cape Agulhas

On February 27, 1971, while en route from Ras Tanura to Cape Town loaded with 40,000 tons of crude oil, the Liberian steam tanker Wafra requested assistance when she became immobilized after her engine room flooded off Cape Agulhas in lat 35.00S, 20.02E at 630 am. The Russian steam tanker Gdynia was the first to arrive on the scene to take the Wafra in tow but when she found this too difficult she handed the tow over to the South African motor vessel Pongola some seven miles off Cape Agulhas later the same day. Most of the crew were taken off. However, the tow rope broke and the 49,762 dwt Wafra, with only the master and helmsman on board, drifted aground in a heavy swell at 5:30 pm on a reef about five miles due east of Cape Agulhas. This resulted in heavy leakage of the crude oil cargo.

The West German salvage tug Oceanic arrived on the scene and eventually succeeded in pulling the wreck afloat on March 8 after several unsuccessful attempts duing a four day period. The Wafra with an estiamted 20 percent of her cargo having spilled into the sea was then towed to a position 200 miles off Cape Agulhas where she was attacked by South Africa jets using high explosive missiles on March 10. The blazing wreck, settling slowly in the water, was then depth charged on the following two days. She finally sank on March 12 in lat 38S, long 20E.

The Wafra was launched at Nagasaki on october 5, 1955 with a gross tonnage of 27,400. In August, 1970 she underwent jumboization which increased her overall gross tonnage to 36,697.

 Albion II

The silent sinking of the bulk carrier the Albion II, presumed to be on 18 February 1997, 60 miles from Brest, raised the problem of the evaluation of the threat posed by the reactive chemicals onboard. The presence of calcium carbide (114 tonnes packaged in 500 barrels of 50 kg and 800 barrels of 100 kg) meant a risk of explosion. This product spontaneously reacts with water to produce acetylene, a flammable gas (10 kg of calcium carbide gives off 3 to 4 m³ of acetylene).

The shipwreck lies 120 m deep. Research suggests that the barrels would be unable to resist the pressure at such depth. It is therefore highly likely that the metal has been pierced and that water has infiltrated into the barrels and gas has been released. The risk of calcium carbide-filled barrels being caught in the nets of passing fishing boats, which would mean the release of inflammable gas when brought to the surface, is an unlikely hypothesis. However, it cannot be totally ruled out and ships are advised to be extremely carefully when trawling near the wreck.

Name: Albion II

Date: 18 February 1997

Location: France


Accident area : 60 miles from Brest, Finistère

Cause of spill : damage to ship

Quantity transported : 114 tonnes

Type of pollutant : calcium carbide

Ship type : bulk carrier

Date built : 1986

Length : 178 m

Width : 23 m

Flag : Cypriot

Abdul Rahman

On 20 November 1997, the Egyptian cargo vessel Abdul Rahman ran aground off Benghazi (Libya). Due to this accident, the vessel was badly damaged. Some of the bunker fuel oil and part of the cargo (1,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, 500 tonnes of ferrosilicon, 100 tonnes of caustic soda, 100 tonnes of black honey) were spilled at sea.

The pollution was monitored but no specific action was carried out.


  • IMO/UNEP/MAP/REMPEC, 2008, Statistical analysis for alerts and accidents database
  • IMO/UNEP/MAP/REMPEC, 2004, List of alerts and accidents in the Mediterranean

Name: Abdul Rahman

Date: 20 November 1997

Location: Libya

Accident area : off Benghazi

Cause of spill : grounding

Type of pollutants : ammonium nitrate, ferrosilicon, caustic soda, black honey, bunker fuel oil

Quantities spilled : 1,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, 500 tonnes of ferrosilicon, 100 tonnes of caustic soda, 100 tonnes of black honey

Ship type : general cargo vessel

Date built : 1971

Flag : Egyptian

Champion Trader

Spills > Champion Trader >

On 29 October 1998, an explosion on the Champion Trader resulted in the release of 14 m3 of heavy fuel oil and 460 tonnes of palm oil into Southwest Pass, in the Mississippi Delta (Louisiana).

The oil drifted 3 km downriver. Only 20 tonnes of palm oil were recovered.


  • Agreement for cooperation in dealing with the pollution of the north sea by oil and other harmful substances, 1999, Review of 43 chemical spills at sea
  • Incident news

Name: Champion Trader

Date: 29 October 1998

Location: USA

 Conoco Britannia

On the 24 June 1973, the Liberian oil tanker the Conoco Britannia grounded in Humber estuary due to engine failure. This accident caused 500 tonnes of crude oil to be spilled.

During the response operation, dispersants were spread on the surface of the sea and on the beaches affected. The cargo remaining in the damaged tank was pumped out.

The impact on the coastline was minimal, however a number of oiled birds were found.


  • IFP, Banques de données sur les accidents de navire ayant provoqué un déversement de pétrole en mer supérieur à 500 tonnes, complément 1955-1974, Réf. 28 488, Octobre 1980
  • Department of Trade, Accidents at Sea Causing Oil Pollution, Review of Contingency Measures, London, 1978

Name: Conoco Britannia

Date: 24 June 1973

Location: North Sea

Accident area: Humber estuary

Cause of spill: grounding

Quantity transported: 98,400 tonnes

Type of pollutant: crude oil

Quantity spilled: 500 tonnes

Ship type: oil tanker

Date built: 1972

Flag: Liberian

Accident area : Mississippi River, Louisiana

Cause of spill : explosion

Quantity transported : 800 m3 of heavy fuel oil

Type of pollutants : heavy fuel oil, palm oil, coconut oil

Quantities spilled : 14 m3 of heavy fuel oil and 460 tonnes of palm oil

Ship type : tanker

CMA Djakarta

In July 1999, the CMA Djakarta was off the coast of Cyprus when there was an explosion on deck followed by a fire. Despite significant efforts, the crew could not control the fire and further explosions occurred. The vessel was abandoned and subsequently grounded off the Egyptian coast where salvors took over. The fire was eventually put out and the vessel was towed to Malta as a port refuge and then to Croatia for repairs.

Investigations were carried out and it appeared that the explosions and fire on deck had been caused by a cargo of calcium hypochlorite. This product had self-combusted, possibly as a result of impurities, either due to the manufacturing process of such bleaching powder or as a result of contamination during transport.

The results of this investigation led the shipowner of the CMA Djakarta to take the charterer to court. The London-based arbitrators decided that the transport of containers of dangerous substances violated the contract which expressly prohibited the shipment of “any goods of a dangerous, injurious, flammable or corrosive nature”. The court’s decision delivered in London in January 2002 sentenced the charterer to damages to cover repairs to the damaged vessel as well as an indemnity to compensate for costs incurred (salvage, cargo…). Meanwhile, the charterer established a limitation fund through the Commercial Court of Marseille, in compliance with the 1976 Limitation Convention.

The charterer appealed but in February 2004 the appeal was rejected by the London Court of Admiralty. The court confirmed that there was no limit of liability for the costs of vessel repair and salvage operations. However it overruled the first judgement concerning indemnity for the loss of cargo. It decided that the charterers were entitled to limit their liability for this indemnity.

Name: CMA Djakarta

Date: 10 July 1999

Location: Mediterranean

Accident area: off the coast of Cyprus

Cause of spill: explosion

Type of pollutant: calcium hypochlorite

Ship type: container ship

Owner: Classica Shipping Co., Ltd

Charterer: CMA-CGM S.A., Marseille, France


N°1 Chung Mu


On 9 March 1995, the Chon Stone N°1, a cargo boat, collided with the Chung Mu N°1, a chemical tanker built in 1994 loaded with styrene monomer, in the access channel to Zhanjiang’s harbour (Southern China).

The chemical tanker N°1 Chung Mu (source: Cedre)

When the ships collided, 208 tonnes of styrene monomer were spilled at sea. The breach was immediately sealed by divers with wooden plugs, however it is likely that some styrene continued to leak out gradually.

When immediate human health risks had been eliminated (styrene vapours are neurotoxic),the risks concerning the sea environment could be characterized by a change in the organoleptic characteristics of the flesh of fish and shellfish. Short styrene monomers are moderately toxic for aquatic life and bio-accumulate only to a small extent in the environment.

The Chung Mu was immobilized by the authorities and was ordered to provide a significant bank guarantee because of the potential damage to aquatic species. The insurance club contracted Cedre for two missions in China, in order to assess the damage the living resources had undergone. This estimation allowed the insurance club to come to an agreement with the authorities on a reasonable down payment and the release of the ship.

Name: N°1 Chung Mu/N°1 Chon Stone

Date: 9 March 1995

Location: China

Accident area: access channel to Zhanjiang’s harbour

Cause of spill: collision

Type of pollutant: Styrene monomer

Quantity spilled: 208 tonnes

Ship type: chemical tanker

Date built: 1994

Length: 75 m

Width: 14 m

Flag: Chinese

Shell and fish market (source: Cedre)


On 21 October 1991, on its way from Ashdod (Israel) to Rouen (Normandy) the Maltese bulk carrier Erato encountered very bad weather conditions and ran into difficulty. It sank off Algeria with a cargo of 25 894 tonnes of phosphate. During this accident, 500 tonnes of bunker fuel was discharged at sea.

Rescue operations were carried out but 5 crew men went missing.


  • IMO/UNEP/MAP/REMPEC, 2004, List of alerts and accidents in the Mediterranean
  • MAMACA Emina, GIRIN Michel, LE FLOCH Stéphane and EL ZIR Rawad, 2009, Review of chemical spills at sea and lessons learnt, Interspill 2009 conference
  • Legambiente and the Civil Protection Department, 2007, Pollution from hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean Sea
  • HOOKE Norman, 1997, Maritime casualties 1963-1996, second edition, LLP Limited, London

Name: Erato

Date: 21 October 1991

Location: Mediterranean

Accident area : off Algeria

Cause of spill : adverse weather conditions

Quantity transported : 25,894 tonnes of phosphate

Type of pollutants : phosphate and bunker fuel

Quantities spilled : 25,894 tonnes of phosphate + 500 tonnes of bunker fuel

Ship type : bulk carrier

Built date : 1968

Flag : Maltese

Eurobulker IV

On 8 September 2000, the bulk carrier Eurobulker IV with a Saint Vincent and the Grenadines flag ploughed into rocks while attempting to enter the port of Porto Vesme (Italy). The vessel was carrying 17,000 tonnes of coal, 35 tonnes of diesel oil and 170 tonnes of bunker fuel.

All 16 crew members were evacuated and it appeared that the captain had no nautical charts of the area, which is however known to be a hazardous shipping area.

The hull was considerably damaged by the rocks and 60 tonnes of bunker fuel leaked out. In spite of difficult conditions at sea, booms were deployed to protect the coastal zone. Several response vessels were also sent on-site.

Salvage operations were initiated on 28 September but on 3 October, the bulk carrier broke in two and sank with 14,000 tonnes of coal still in the holds. Recovery operations on the seafloor were carried out from 23 October 2000 to 15 August 2002 and in total 4,829 tonnes of matter were recovered.

  • IMO/UNEP/MAP/REMPEC, 2004, List of alerts and accidents in the Mediterranean
  • Lloyd’s casualty reporting service, 14 September 2000, Eurobulker IV
  • Lloyd’s list, 2000, Eurobulker IV
  • Ministero dell’Ambiente, 11 September 2000, M/V Eurobulker IV
  • CaloForte Friends
  • – Claudio Paolini, 2005, Impatto chimico-fisico del carico di carbone disperso nel canale di San Pietro (CA) con l’affondamento della M/N Eurobulker IV

Name: Eurobulker IV

Date: 08/09/2000

Location: Italy

Accident area : Porto Vesme

Cause of spill : grounding

Quantities transported : 17,000 tonnes of coal + 35 tonnes of diesel oil + 170 tonnes of bunker fuel

Type of pollutants : coal and bunker fuel oil

Quantities spilled : 14,000 tonnes of coal + 60 tonnes of bunker fuel

Ship type : bulk carrier

Date built : 1979

Flag : Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Owner : Ilias Shipping

Classification society : Camodian Classification Society

Fu Shan Hai

On 31 May 2003, the Chinese bulk carrier Fu Shan Hai collided with the Cypriot container ship Gdynia off Bornholm Island (Denmark). Due to the blow, the Fu Shan Hai was severely damaged and began to sink and leak. There were 66,000 tonnes of potash, 1, 800 tonnes of fuel oil and 110 tonnes of diesel oil and lubricants aboard.

The crew of the Chinese ship was evacuated by a rescue vessel. The Fu Shan Hai was towed but 8 hours after the collision, the bulk carrier sank in waters 68 m deep where it continued to leak.

Eleven Swedish and Danish response vessels were sent onsite. During overflights, it could be easily observed that they were operating in oil using sweep arms and integral skimming pumps of external skimmers.

Two days after the ship sank, an oil slick of about 12 km long and 3 km wide was observed off the Swedish coast. A few days later and even with the intervention of oil-combating vessels, oil polluted the shores and cliffs of Christianø Island (Denmark). Cleaning operations were carried out on the shoreline.

At the same time, after 11 days of response at sea, Danish and Swedish teams recovered 1,200 tonnes of oil.

At sea and on land recovery operations cost 89 million Swedish Krona, i.e. 8.8 million Euros.


  • Danish Maritime Authority, 2003, Casualty report – Collision between Chinese bulk carrier Fu Shan Hai and Cypriot container vessel Gdynia
  • Ingmar Bergström, 2006, The “Fu Shan Hai” accident – May 31, 2003
  • EMSA, 2004, Action plan for oil pollution preparedness and response
  • Centre for Ocean and Ice

Name: Fu Shan Hai

Date: 31 May 2003

Location: Baltic Sea

Accident area : off Bornholm Island, Denmark

Cause of spill : collision

Quantities transported : 66,000 tonnes of potash + 1,800 tonnes of heavy fuel oil + 110 tonnes of diesel oil and lubricants

Type of pollutants : potash, heavy fuel oil, lubricant

Quantities spilled : 66,000 tonnes of potash + 1,800 tonnes of heavy fuel oil + 110 tonnes of diesel oil and lubricants

Ship type : bulk carrier

Date built : 1994

Length : 225 m

Width : 32.2 m

Draught : 13.6 m

Flag : Chinese

Owner : Cosco Bulk Carrier Co., Ltd.

Classification society : China Classification Society

Gulf War

On 26 January 1991, when the Iraqi army left Kuwait, it sabotaged a large part of the Emirate oil wells, Mina al Ahmadi’s oil terminal and anchored oil tankers. They ignited the spilled oil, in order to cause maximum damage to the country’s oil industry.

Between 700,000 and 900,000 tonnes of oil were spilled at sea over a number of weeks, before international intervention squads succeeded in containing the stream. Provided that estimates are accurate, this was the biggest oil spill in human history.

Oil wells on fire (Source: E.C.P.A.D./France/Patrick Babef)


Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Iran boomed economically and ecologically sensitive areas and implemented various forms of pollution response, in many cases with foreign equipment and expertise.

Claims for damages were presented to the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), in charge of the distribution of war damage compensation by Iraq.

Industrial sites protected by boom (Source: Cedre)


The effects of these hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil could immediately be seen on coral, fish and shellfish. Long term regular monitoring was essential to follow the re-establishment of aquatic and coastal flora and fauna in the affected area.

The high mortality of fish populations benefited zooplankton which reproduced rapidly and became abundant due to the lack of predators.

Estimations indicated that 30,000 seabirds were directly killed by exposure to oil. Nearly 50% of the coral was affected as well as hundreds of square kilometres of seaweed fields being flooded with oil slicks.

The risks were also high for turtles, which were used to coming to breed on these islands and became coated in oil. The seawater remained contaminated by metals, although it is not known whether this was due to remaining oil from this spill or another source of pollution. Sheen could regularly be seen on the shoreline.

Name: Gulf war

Date: 26 January 1991

Location: The Persian Gulf

Cause of spill: war

Type of pollutant: oil

Quantity spilled: between 700,000 and 900,000 tonnes

The coral showed symptoms of severe stress, causing bleaching and high mortality as a result of periods of reduction in temperature of the water surface during the winter following the war.

Many environmental factors took longer to return to normal than was expected by scientists. Other factors on top of the post-Gulf war impacts were evoked, such as the influence of climate change, various sources of air and water pollution etc.

The effects on human health are difficult to observe as they involve too many different factors, the dissociation of responsibilities for events which may be involved and sufficient hindsight to be able to see all the effects.


The commission received approximately 170 claims relating to the environment, seeking a total of approximately 80 billion US dollars in compensation.

The claims for the environment concerned both environmental damage and the depletion of natural resources in the Persian Gulf. The environmental damages resulting from oil-well fires and the discharge of oil into the sea were taken into account. The costs incurred by governments outside of the region in providing assistance to countries that were directly affected by the environmental damage were also included.

This assistance included the alleviation of damage caused by the oil-well fires, the prevention and clean-up of pollution and the provision of manpower and supplies.

109 of these claims were awarded compensation, however the compensation awarded for this category amounts to a little over 5 billion dollars, a mere 6.2 % of the claimed amount.


United Nations Compensation Commission
Provides facts and figures relating to the compensation process

Gülser Ana

In the night of 25 to 26 August 2009, the Turkish ore carrier Gülser Ana, loaded with 39,250 tonnes of phosphorite (phosphate rock), 570 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 70 tonnes of marine diesel and 8 tonnes of lubricating oil, was travelling from Kpeme (Togo) to Visakhapatnam (India), when it grounded off Faux Cap, at the southernmost point of Madagascar. The impact of the accident caused a crack in the side of the vessel and the 23 crew members had to be rescued. On 30 August, the vessel broke in two. Part of its fuel and its cargo were released into the sea.

Gülser Ana
Wreck of the Gülser Ana (source: Cedre)

The risk generated by this accident was two-fold: phosphorite can contain heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and chrome) and oil products can contaminate vital resources for local populations (fish and coastal well water). A ministerial order was therefore issued banning fishing in the area. In return, the area’s fishermen received transitory compensation from the vessel’s insurer.

Clean-up operations were conducted on the 50 km of oiled beaches by a few experts in spill response working with 100 to 150 locals who were trained, equipped and remunerated for their participation. Two agents from Cedre were sent on site in September and October upon request by the Republic of Madagascar Ministry of Transport. Their mission was to determine whether the marine environment and the water for consumption from coastal wells were polluted due to the spill of fuel and cargo from the Gülser Ana. Water samples (sea and wells) and fish samples were taken. Analysis carried out in Cedre’s laboratory showed no pollution due to the ore carrier.

Water sampling in a coastal well (source: Cedre)


  • Cedre, 2009, Rapport au Ministère des Transports de la République Malgache sur l’accident du navire Gülser Ana sur la côte sud de Madagascar
  • Cedre, 2009, L’accident du navire minéralier Gülser Ana sur la côte sud de Madagascar, dans la nuit du 25 au 26 aout 2009
  • www.coordmareenoire.net

Name: Gülser Ana

Date: 26 August 2009

Location: Madagascar

Accident area : off Faux Cap

Cause of spill : grounding

Quantities transported : 39,250 tonnes of phosphorite, 570 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, 70 tonnes of marine diesel and 8 tonnes of lubricating oil

Type of pollutants : phosphorite (phosphate rock), heavy fuel oil, lubricating oil

Ship type : ore carrier

Date built : 1985

Length : 188.5 m

Width : 29.7 m

Flag : Turkish

Owner : Kardeniz Denizcilik

Operator : Mardeniz Denizcilik

Insurer : Cabinet Holman Fenwick

P&I Club : North of England

Ice Prince

On 14 January 2008, the Greek bulk carrier Ice Prince suffered total power failure while in the Channel. Due to very rough sea and weather conditions, the vessel sank the following day, half-way between Cherbourg (Normandy) and Portland (England) in waters under British jurisdiction. 2,000 tonnes of timber stacked on deck fell overboard.

The 20 crew members were evacuated and an exclusion zone with a diameter of 1,000 m was established. The vessel’s bunkers contained 423 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (IFO 180) and 123 tonnes of marine diesel oil (MDO), which was at risk of being released from the wreck.

Upwellings of oil were detected and monitored but no pollution arrived on the shoreline. The timber lost at sea eventually washed up on the shores of Sussex (England). The shipowner organised pumping operations for the bunker fuel and recovery operations for the timber remaining in the holds.
The bulk carrier Ice Prince a few hours after the accident
The bulk carrier Ice Prince a few hours after the accident
(source : French Navy)


  • Cedre, 2008, Concours à l’Etat major de la marine, au CEPPOL, aux Préfets maritimes et aux Commandants de la marine – Actions 2008 – Rapport final
  • EMSA, 2009, The pollution preparedness and response activities of the EMSA – Report 2008
  • Le marin, 25 janvier 2008, La cargaison de l’«Ice Prince » sur les plages anglaises
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency, 2008, Sunken vessel – Ice Prince
  • Mer et Marine
  • Vesseltracker.com
  • Shipwrecks uk

Name: IIce Prince

Date: 15 January 2008

Location: Channel

Accident area : 26 nautical miles north-west of Le Havre, Normandy

Cause of spill : power failure

Quantities transported : 5,258 tonnes of timber + 423 tonnes of heavy fuel oil + 123 tonnes of marine diesel

Type of pollutants : timber, heavy fuel oil (IFO 380) and marine diesel oil (MDO)

Quantity spilled : 2,000 tonnes of timber

Ship type : bulk carrier

Date built : 1990

Shipyard : Malta Shipbuilding

Length : 131.6 m

Width : 19.4 m

Draught : 7.4 m

Flag : Greek

Owner : Volcano Carriers, Panama

Shipowner : Elmar Shipping Company, Athens, Greece

Video of the Ice Prince sinking
BBC News website

Hawaiian Patriot

On 23 February 1977, the Hawaiian Patriot was travelling from Indonesia to Honolulu when it hit a storm. A three metre crack appeared in the hull. The ship was transporting 99,000 tonnes of light Indonesian crude oil, of which over 17,500 tonnes escaped from the crack into the sea.

The following day, the oil tanker went on fire. The vessel exploded and sank with the remaining cargo onboard. The crew leapt overboard and were picked up by the merchantman Philippine Bataan, which was present in the area at the time.

One crew member was killed in the accident.
The oil slick (50,000 tonnes) drifted westwards, away from Hawaii, and dispersed in the water column. The pollution was monitored although no response actions were carried out.
No oil was washed up onshore.


  • N. Hooke, Maritime Casualties 1963-1996, p268
  • Alain R. Bertrand Transport Maritime et pollution accidentelle par le pétrole – Faits et chiffres (1951-1999), p89 et p95
  • James N. Butler, The largest oil spills: INCONSISTENCIES, INFORMATION GAPS, Oct 1978 OCEAN INDUSTRY
  • ITOPF – Information Services, Case Histories

Name: Hawaiian Patriot

Date: 23/02/1977

Location: Hawaii

Accident area: off Hawaii, North Pacific

Quantity transported: 99,000 tonnes

Type of pollutant: Indonesian crude oil

Quantity spilled: 50,000 tonnes

Ship type: oil tanker

Date built: 1965

Length: 258 metres

Width: 39 metres

Flag: Liberian