SS Atlantic Empress
|Name:||SS Atlantic Empress|
|Owner:||South Gulf Shipping Co. Ltd., Greece|
|Builder:||Odense Staalskibsværft, Odense, Denmark|
|Launched:||16 February 1974|
|Identification:||IMO number: 7359975|
|Fate:||Sank, 3 August 1979|
|General characteristics |
|Length:||347.2 m (1,139 ft 1 in) o/a
330.7 m (1,085 ft 0 in) p/p
|Beam:||51.8 m (169 ft 11 in)|
|Draught:||22.1 m (72 ft 6 in)|
|Depth:||28.4 m (93 ft 2 in)|
|Propulsion:||Steam turbines, 23,866 kW (32,005 hp), 1 screw|
|Speed:||16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)|
SS Atlantic Empress was a Greek oil tanker that in 1979 collided with the oil tanker Aegean Captain in the Caribbean, and eventually sank, having created the fifth largest oil spill on record and the largest ship-based spill.
The Atlantic Empress was a Very Large Crude Carrier built at the Odense Staalskibsværft yard in Odense, Denmark, and launched on 16 February 1974. At the time of her sinking she was owned by the South Gulf Shipping Company of Greece, and flagged in Liberia.
Collision and sinking
On 19 July 1979 Atlantic Empress collided with the Aegean Captain, another fully laden Greek supertanker, 18 miles east of the island of Tobago. At the time of the collision Atlantic Empress was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Beaumont, Texas, with a cargo of light crude oil owned by Mobil Oil. Aegean Captain was en route to Singapore from Aruba.
In heavy rain and thick fog the two ships did not sight each other until they were 600 yards (550 m) apart. Aegean Captain changed course, but it was too late to avoid a collision, and at 7:15 p.m the two ships impacted, with the Empress tearing a hole in the Captain's starboard bow. Large fires began on each ship, which were soon beyond the control of the crews, who abandoned their ships.
Twenty-six men from the Empress were missing, presumed dead, while there was only one fatality aboard Captain. The remaining crew from both ships were taken to Tobago for medical treatment, while the Empress's captain was transported to a hospital in Texas, having inhaled fire.
Firefighters from the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard brought the fires aboard the Captain under control the next day, and members of her crew returned to the ship, and were able to bring her into Curaçao, where her cargo was off-loaded. Meanwhile a five-man specialist emergency crew from Mobil assisted the Coast Guard in attempts to control the fire aboard Empress, and contain the spreading oil slick, bringing two tugs in order to tow the burning ship further out to sea.
On July 24, a week after the collision, the Empress was still burning, and also listing, when an explosion occurred that increased the rate of flow. The next day another larger explosion increased the rate to 7,000-15,000 gallons an hour, twice the previous rate. Finally, on 3 August, the Empress finally sank at position Coordinates: , having spilled 287,000 metric tonnes of crude oil into the Caribbean Sea.
- Visser, Auke (2012). "Atlantic Empress". International Super Tankers. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Case Histories". International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation. 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- Soter, Tom (October 1979). "Supertankers Collide in Caribbean". Firehouse (Cygnus Business Media). Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- Gillis, Carly (September 17, 2011). "Atlantic Empress And Aegean Captain Oil Spill: A Brief History". CounterSpill. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Major Tanker Oil Spills". International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation. 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- Visser, Auke. "Images of Atlantic Empress & Aegean Captain collision". International Super Tankers.
- "How big is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?". BBC News. 7 May 2010.