MV Erika

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OwnerTevere Shipping (Malta)
BuilderKasado Dock Co Ltd Japan
Launched17 October 1974
Out of service12 December 1999
FateWrecked 12 December 1999
General characteristics
Typeoil tanker[1]
Tonnage37,283 DWT[1]
Length184 m (LOA)[2]
Draught10.9 m[2]
PropulsionSulzer main engine, 13,200 horsepower

Erika was a tanker built in 1975 and last chartered by Total-Fina-Elf. It sank off the coast of France in 1999, causing a major environmental disaster.


Erika was one of eight sister ships built in Japan. Despite having 10% less steel than many other tankers of similar size, Erika was very popular amongst shipping companies because of its relative inexpensiveness.[3]


On December 8, 1999, she sailed out of Dunkerque, bound for Livorno and with a cargo of around 31,000 tons of heavy fuel oil.

As she entered the Bay of Biscay, the Erika ran into a heavy storm. On December 12, 1999, she broke in two and sank, releasing thousands of tons of oil into the sea, killing marine life and polluting shores around Brittany, France.

According to the official inquiry by the Dunkerque Tribunal, the Principal Shareholder of Tevere Shipping is Giuseppe Savarese, owner of the Erika since 1996. Savarese lives in London and was personally responsible for finance, administration, legal, commercial, hull and machinery insurance and P&I insurance matters.

The Erika's technical and maritime management company was Panship, a Ravenna-based corporation incorporated in 1997. The Pollara and Vitiello families each own 50 percent. The company did not employ a specialist in naval architecture or vessel strength which is typical for such companies. With regards to maintenance, Panship defined the scope and nature of maintenance work in addition to creating and evaluating calls for bids for such work. All decisions were submitted to Giuseppe Savarese. Erika's was registered under a Maltese flag. The Classification Society for classed the Erika was RINA or the Foundation Registro Italiano Navale ed Aeronautica, based in Genoa. Malta like most Flag States delegates compliance with International Safety Management Code of International Maritime Organization to Classification Societies such as RINA. RINA issued all safety certificates for the Erika.

Course and oil spill

List of Certificates issued for the Erika by RINA:

  • International Load Line Certificate - Dated December 16, 1998 valid until August 31, 2003
  • Safety Construction Certificate - Dated December 16, 1998 valid until August 31, 2003
  • International Pollution Certificate - Dated December 16, 1998 valid until August 31, 2003
  • Safety Equipment Certificate - Dated December 16, 1998 valid until August 14, 2000
  • Radio Certificate - Dated November 23, 1999 valid until March 31, 2000

Total said that the classification society, Registro Italiano Navale had reported that the tanker was in good condition, and that it routinely requires certificates of good condition for vessels more than 20 years old.

The accident triggered new EU-legislation as regard to transport by sea.

On January 16, 2008, Total SA, Giuseppe Savarese (the shipowner), Antonio Pollara (the handler) and RINA (the expert company) were sentenced in solidum to pay indemnities of €192 million (US$280 million), plus individual penalties. The judgement, while recognizing the risks inherent to oceangoing vessels, reckons Total SA was "guilty of imprudence", from the fact that Total SA did not take into account "the age of the ship", (nearly 25 years), and "the discontinuity of its technical handling and maintenance".[4]

On March 30, 2010, Total SA lost their appeal to overturn the court's decision.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Erika (224572)". Port State Information Exchange. United States Coast Guard.
  2. ^ a b CEDRE, 2009.
  3. ^ "The scandal of the Erika". BBC News. August 16, 2000.
  4. ^ (in French) Erika : amende maximale pour les coupables, dont Total
  5. ^ "Total loses Erika oil spill appeal". 30 March 2010.


  • Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (CEDRE) (November 2009). "Erika". Brest: Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution. Retrieved 2010-06-30.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°9′N 4°15′W / 47.150°N 4.250°W / 47.150; -4.250