Oil Tankers Collide near Tobago (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: Two oil tankers collided in a rain squall off the island of Tobago in the Caribbean Sea and spilled 370,000 tons of oil, the largest oil spill up to that time.
Summary of Event
Powerful thunderstorms known as rain squalls are common in the Caribbean Sea, especially in the summer. At about 7 p.m. on July 19, 1979, some ten miles off the island of Tobago, two Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) entered a squall from opposite directions. Visibility was very limited because of the storm, and radar was not effective in the squall. As a result, the tankers’ crews were unaware of each other until the tankers were less than one mile apart on a collision course. Despite last-minute efforts to maneuver, the bow of the Aegean Captain struck the side of the Atlantic Empress.
The Aegean Captain had loaded more than 200,000 tons of crude oil at the nearby islands of Curacao and Bonaire and was bound for Singapore. She was owned by a Liberian company and registered there, but she was managed by an office near Athens, Greece. Her officers and most of her crew were Greek. This eleven-year-old ship had been built by Hitachi Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Sakai, Japan, in 1968. The Aegean Captain measured 1,066 feet long, 155 feet in beam (width), and her keel lay 62 feet below the surface of the sea. This last measurement is called draft. She was powered by a...
(The entire section is 2249 words.)
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