Exxon Valdez

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The Exxon Valdez
Exxon Valdez at Prince William Sound in 1989
NameOriental Nicety
Port of registry
Ordered1 August 1984
Laid down24 July 1985
Launched14 October 1986
In service11 December 1986–20 March 2012
Out of service21 March 2012 (sold for scrap)
  • Exxon Valdez (1986–1989)
  • Exxon Mediterranean (1990–1993)
  • Sea River Mediterranean (1993–2005)
  • S/R Mediterranean (1993–2005)
  • Mediterranean (2005–2008)
  • Dong Fang Ocean (2008–2011)
  • Oriental Nicety (2011–2012)
Refit30 June 1989
FateBeached for dismantling 2 August, 2012
General characteristics
Class and typeVLCC oil tanker
TypeABS: A1, ore carrier, AMS, ACCU, GRAB 25
Tonnage214,861 DWT[3]
Displacement240,291 long tons[3]
Length987 ft (301 m) overall[3]
Beam166 ft (51 m)[3]
Draft64.5 ft (19.7 m)[3]
Depth88 ft (27 m)[3]
Installed power31,650 bhp (23,600 kW) at 79 rpm
PropulsionEight-cylinder, reversible, slow-speed Sulzer marine diesel engine
Speed16.25 knots (30.10 km/h; 18.70 mph)
Capacity1.48 million barrels (235,000 m³) of crude oil[3]

Oriental Nicety, formerly Exxon Valdez, Exxon Mediterranean, SeaRiver Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Mediterranean, and Dong Fang Ocean, was an oil tanker that gained notoriety after running aground in Prince William Sound spilling its cargo of crude oil into the sea. On March 24, 1989, while owned by the former Exxon Shipping Company, and captained by Joseph Hazelwood and First Mate James Kunkel[5] bound for Long Beach, California, the vessel ran aground on the Bligh Reef resulting in the second largest oil spill in United States history.[6] The size of the spill is estimated to have been 40,900 to 120,000 m3 (10,800,000 to 31,700,000 US gal), or 257,000 to 750,000 barrels.[7][8] In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was listed as the 54th largest spill in history.[citation needed]


The tanker was 301 meters long, 51 meters wide, and 26 meters deep (987 ft x 166 ft x 88 ft), with a deadweight of 214,861 long tons and a full-load displacement of 240,291 long tons. The ship was able to transport up to 235,000 m³ (1.48 million barrels) at a sustained speed of 30 km/h 16.25 knots, powered by a 23.60 MW (31,650 shp) diesel engine. Her hull design was of the single-hull type, constructed by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California. She was a relatively new tanker at the time of the spill, having been delivered to Exxon on December 16, 1986.

Incident and accidents[edit]

Oil spill[edit]

At the time of the spill, Exxon Valdez was employed to transport crude oil from the Alyeska consortium's pipeline terminal in Valdez, Alaska, to the lower 48 states of the United States. At the time it ran aground, the vessel was carrying about 201,000 m³ (53.1 million gallons) of oil. After the spill, the vessel was towed to San Diego arriving on June 10, 1989, and repairs were started on June 30, 1989. Approximately 1,600 tons of steel were removed and replaced that July, totaling US$30 million of repairs to the tanker. Its single-hull design remained unaltered.

The Exxon Valdez spill occurred under President George H. W. Bush, whose Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, William K. Reilly, reportedly played a significant role in mobilizing presidential support for action to contain and clean up the spill.[9][better source needed]


Litigation was filed on behalf of 38,000 litigants. In 1994, a jury awarded plaintiffs US$287 million in compensatory damages and US$5 billion in punitive damages. Exxon appealed and the Ninth Circuit Court reduced the punitive damages to US$2.5 billion. Exxon then appealed the punitive damages to the Supreme Court which capped the damages to US$507.5 million in June, 2008. On August 27, 2008, Exxon Mobil agreed to pay 75% of the US$507.5 million damages ruling to settle the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska.[10] In June 2009, a federal ruling ordered Exxon to pay an additional US$480 million in interest on their delayed punitive damage awards.[11]

Return to service[edit]

After repairs, Exxon Valdez was renamed Exxon Mediterranean, then SeaRiver Mediterranean in the early 1990s, when Exxon transferred its shipping business to a new subsidiary company, River Maritime Inc. The name was later shortened to S/R Mediterranean, then to simply Mediterranean in 2005. Although Exxon tried briefly to return the ship to its North American fleet, it was prohibited by law from returning to Prince William Sound.[12] It then served in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.[13] In 2002, the ship was again removed from service.[14] In 2005, it began operating under the Marshall Islands flag of convenience.[15] Since then, European Union regulations have also prevented vessels with single-hull designs such as the Valdez from entering European ports.[16] In early 2008, SeaRiver Maritime, an ExxonMobil subsidiary, sold Mediterranean to the Hong Kong-based shipping company, Hong Kong Bloom Shipping Ltd., which renamed the ship, once again, to Dong Fang Ocean (Chinese: 东方海; lit. 'oriental sea'), under Panama registry. In 2008, she was refitted and converted from an oil tanker to an ore carrier.

Hong Kong Bloom Shipping, is a subsidiary of Chinese Government owned company China Ocean Shipping (Group) Corporation (COSCO).[17][better source needed]

Collision with MV Aali[edit]

On November 29, 2010, Dong Fang Ocean collided in the South China Sea with the Malta-flagged cargo ship, Aali. Both vessels were severely damaged in the incident, and Aali was towed to Weihai and Dong Fang Ocean was towed to Longyan Port in Shandong.[18]


In March 2012, Dong Fang Ocean was purchased by Global Marketing Systems, Inc. for scrap at an estimated US$16 million and sailed under her own power to a ship breaker in Singapore. She changed hands again among scrap merchants (a common occurrence) and was eventually routed to Alang, India, under the ownership of Priya Blue Industries and at some point renamed Oriental Nicety.[19] Before being beached, some tried to halt the action, arguing that the vessel was in breach of the Basel Convention.[20] On 30 July 2012, the Supreme Court of India granted permission for the owners of Oriental Nicety to beach her at Gujarat coast to be dismantled.[21] She was then beached at Alang on 2 August 2012.[22]

In popular culture[edit]

  • On the 1990 comedy show In Living Color season 1, episode 4, Jim Carrey plays Hazelwood in a sketch titled "The Exxon Family."
  • In the 1995 film Waterworld, the base for the villainous "smokers" is a ship called Exxon Valdez, prominently featuring a portrait of Joe Hazelwood, the captain of the real Exxon Valdez.
  • In the 1998 video game Fallout 2, an alternate version of the Exxon Valdez called the PMV Valdez is used to get to an offshore oil rig.
  • The Futurama episode "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz" is a parody of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, with the dark matter tanker named the Juan Valdez.


  1. ^ "Dong Fang Ocean". Auke Visser's Historical Tankers. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Dong Fang Ocean – Type of ship: Cargo Ship – Callsign: 3EPL6". VesselTracker. 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Marine Accident Report: Grounding of the U.S. Tankship Exxon Valdez on Bligh Reef, Prince William Sound Near Valdez, Alaska March 24, 1989, National Transportation Board, p. 15 (July 31, 1990)
  4. ^ "ABS Record: Dong Fang Ocean". American Bureau of Shipping. 2010. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-14. Retrieved 2014-03-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About the Spill". Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
  7. ^ Bluemink, Elizabeth (June 27, 2016). "Size of Exxon spill remains disputed". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  8. ^ Riki Ott (18 June 2010). "How Much Oil Really Spilled From the Exxon Valdez?". On The Media (Interview: audio/transcript). Interviewed by Brooke Gladstone. National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 24 June 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  9. ^ EPA Alumni Association: EPA Administrator William K. Reilly describes his agency’s response to the massive spill. Reflections on US Environmental Policy: An Interview with William K. Reilly Video, Transcript (see p2).
  10. ^ Wakabayashi, Daisuke (2008-08-27). "Exxon agrees to pay out 75 percent of Valdez damages". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
  11. ^ Carol J. Williams (June 16, 2009). "Exxon must pay US$480 million in interest over Valdez oil tanker spill". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  12. ^ Musgrave, Ruth S. (1998). Federal Wildlife Laws Handbook with Related Laws. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-86587-557-9.
  13. ^ Robert Little (October 17, 2002). "The former Exxon Valdez faces retirement". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  14. ^ David Kravets (1 November 2002). "9th Circuit bars Exxon Valdez from operating". The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  15. ^ "Headlines 2005q1". Coltoncompany.com. 2005-03-22. Archived from the original on 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2010-04-08.
  16. ^ "Only Double Hull Tankers Now into EU Ports" By Tanker World, May 3, 2007
  17. ^ "Oriental Nicety, formerly known as Exxon Valdez, to be scrapped". maritime-connector.com. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  18. ^ Tim Schwabedissen; Christoph M. Wahner (29 November 2010). "Daily Vessel Casualty, Piracy & News Report". The Law Offices of Countryman & McDaniel. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  19. ^ Staff writers (9 May 2012). "India bars Alaska oil spill tanker Exxon Valdez". BBS News. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  20. ^ David Black (May 10, 2012). "New setback for troubled ship as India bars beaching". The National. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  21. ^ "SC gives green signal for beaching of US ship". The Hindu. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  22. ^ Halliday, Adam (2 August 2012). "23 years after one of history's worst oil spills, Exxon Valdez 'rests' in Gujarat". Indian Express. Retrieved 4 August 2012.

External links[edit]

  • Emergency Response Division – Office of Response and Restoration – National Ocean Service (2010). "T/V Exxon Valdez". IncidentNews. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce. Archived from the original on 10 July 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  • nature.com article about ship