Blue Magpie (ship)

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Name: Blue Magpie
Owner: Jinyu Shipping Company[1]
Port of registry:  Panama[1]
Builder: Shin Kurushima Dockyard, Hiroshima, Japan[2]
Launched: 1982[2]
Identification: IMO number: 8217673[2]
General characteristics
Type: Cargo ship
Length: 110 metres (360 ft)[1]
Crew: 19[1]

Blue Magpie was a 105-metre Japanese freighter owned by Jinyu Shipping Company. She was registered at Panama, and chartered to a Dutch corporation.[1] In November 1983, she ran aground at Newport, Oregon, spilling 285,000 litres of crude oil into the coastal waters.


On 19 November 1983, Blue Magpie was en route to Vancouver, to pick up lumber, after unloading a cargo of Salvadoran coffee in Long Beach, California.[1] Caught up in a storm, the ship attempted to take shelter in Yaquina Bay, but smashed into a coastal rock jetty and broke apart, causing a major oil spill. The vessel's nineteen South Korean crew members were unharmed, and were retrieved from the wreck by helicopter.[3]

It transpired from Coast Guard radio logs that the ship's captain, Kim Gap Bong, had been repeatedly warned of the danger of trying to enter the harbor. The captain, however, was insistent that he had to get out of the storm. Blue Magpie's chief officer, Kang Tae Jung, later explained that their situation had been desperate. The ship had spent nine hours on a violent sea, and was in serious danger of capsizing.[4]

Oil spill[edit]

An estimated 70,000 gallons (265,000 litres) of Bunker C oil leaked from the wreckage, although most of it was swept out to sea by the wind.[5] The oil that did wash ashore, however, posed a significant threat to the local wildlife. Brown pelicans and other coastal birds were found on the beaches covered in oil, and despite the best efforts of volunteers, over 250 birds did not survive their ordeal.[6] Other marine species, such as razor clams, were also thought to be in danger.[4]

A Coast Guard Strike Team, specially trained to manage oil spills, was flown in from California. A containment boom was placed around the ship, and some of the oil was vacuumed off the beach.[3] The cost of the cleanup was at least $140,000, and oil continued to wash up for several weeks, up to 100 miles from the crash site.[5]

A study into the long-term effect of the oil spill on bird numbers found that certain species, in particular the American coot, had shown a significant decline. However, this could have been due to external factors, such as that year's occurrence of El Niño, so the overall impact of the spill was deemed impossible to determine.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Oil spill endangers rare birds". The Montreal Gazette. 22 November 1983. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e "BLUE MAGPIE". Marine Traffic. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Freighter breaks up; crew safe". The Spokesman-Review. 21 November 1983. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Coast Guard tackles oil spill off Oregon coast". Tri City Herald. 21 November 1983. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Watch kept on state beaches". The Bulletin. 28 November 1983. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  6. ^ a b Bayer, R.D. (1988). "Changes in Waterbird Numbers Before and After the 1983 Oil Spill at Yaquina Estuary, Oregon". Oregon Birds 14(2) pp. 157-161 (republished by Archived from the original on 28 April 2012.