Apollo Sea

Coordinates: 33°32.49′S 17°50.92′E / 33.54150°S 17.84867°E / -33.54150; 17.84867
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NameE. W. Beatty[1]
OwnerCP Ships[2]
BuilderNippon Kokan K. K., Tsurumi & Shimizu, Japan[1]
Yard number893[1]
IdentificationIMO number7327677[1]
NameApostolos Andreas[1]
NameApollo Sea[1]
OwnerChina Ocean Shipping Company[3]
Fatefoundered in gale/storm and sank on 26 June 1994 at 33°32.49′S 17°50.92′E / 33.54150°S 17.84867°E / -33.54150; 17.84867 in 147–180 m (482–591 ft)[1][4]
General characteristics
TypeCargo-bulk carrier[1]
Tonnage69,904 GT[1]
Length260 m (850 ft)[1]
Beam41.7 m (137 ft)[1]
Propulsionsingle diesel engine with single shaft and screw[1]
Speed15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)[1]

The MV Apollo Sea was a Chinese-owned, Panamanian-registered bulk carrier which sank near Cape Town in June 1994. Leaking oil from the sunken vessel caused a major environmental disaster which resulted in the death of thousands of seabirds, including endangered African penguins.[5] All of the ship's 36 crew members died in the sinking, which apparently occurred so quickly that no general distress signals were given.[4] The first public indication that the ship had sunk was the appearance of penguins covered with oil. The source of the slick was initially believed to be the wreck of the supertanker Castillo de Bellver, but this theory was disproven and the slick was instead traced to the wreck of the Apollo Sea. The vessel had been loaded with 2,400 tonnes (2,700 cubic metres) of heavy fuel oil when she left port four hours before she sank.[4] Later it was revealed that an automated distress signal had been sent directly to the owners via satellite from the approximate location of the oil spill, and the owners eventually admitted the loss of the vessel and accepted responsibility for the spill.[3][4]

Environmental impact[edit]

Gale-force winds hampered attempts to protect Cape Town from the emerging oil slick, and city beaches were streaked with oil. The oil affected the breeding grounds of the endangered African penguin on Dassen Island. Attempts were made to evacuate penguins to the mainland, but efforts were impeded by the rough weather.[6] 10,000 penguins were collected and cleaned. Of those, approximately 5,000 survived.

Six years later, the region's seabird rookeries were threatened by a similar incident; the MV Treasure oil spill.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "APOLLO SEA CARGO - BULK CARRIER 1973-1994". Retrieved 2014-08-19.
  2. ^ "Merchant Navy Officers - Canadian Pacific". Retrieved 2014-08-19.
  3. ^ a b Igna Schneider (1994-06-28). "Vermiste ertsdraer dalk oorsaak van olieramp" [Missing ore-carrier may cause oil disaster]. Die Burger (in Afrikaans). South Africa: Media24. Archived from the original on 2014-08-20. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
  4. ^ a b c d Moldan, Anton (1997). "Response to the Apollo Sea Oil Spill, South Africa". International Oil Spill Conference Proceedings. 1997. South African Oil Industry Environment Committee. International Oil Spill Conference: 777–781. doi:10.7901/2169-3358-1997-1-777.
  5. ^ Underhill, L. G. (2000-07-11). "Five years of monitoring African Penguins after the Apollo Sea oil spill: a success story made possible by ringing". Penguin Watch. Archived from the original on 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
  6. ^ "S. African city faces pollution disaster". The Canberra Times. 1994-06-27. Retrieved 2014-08-17.