Oswego-GuardianTexanita collision

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The Oswego-GuardianTexanita collision was a maritime accident between two supertankers near Stilbaai, South Africa on 21 August 1972.[1] The Texanita exploded and sank with the loss of 47 men, while a further life was lost on the Oswego Guardian. The accident was a catalyst for change to marine traffic separation procedures as well as oil tanker inerting.


Oswego-Guardian–Texanita collision is located in Western Cape
Cape Agulhas
Cape Agulhas
Western Cape, South Africa

The Oswego-Guardian was rounding the southern tip of Africa, fully loaded with crude oil from the Middle East, while the Texanita was in ballast, and headed in the opposite direction from Trinidad to Ras Tanura. Both ships were approximately 100,000 tons deadweight and Liberian-registered. The ships collided in dense fog off Stilbaai, near Cape Agulhas. The oil vapours in the Texanita's two empty tanks ignited, creating a massive explosion that tore the ship apart, causing it to sink in four minutes with the loss of 47 of its 50 crew;[2] the explosion was heard 63 miles (101 km) away, inland from the coast.

A United Nations resolution[3] that would have made the use of inert gas safety systems mandatory for oil tankers, was still in draft in 1972. Experts believe that were the Texanita inerted, her fate might have been less tragic, possibly like that of the Venoil.[1]

The subsequent investigation determined that the masters of both ships failed to maintain an adequate lookout or to plot the course of the opposite ship; both ships also failed to reduce speed, despite observing one another on radar. At the time, the accident was the biggest tanker collision on record.[4] One of the Texanita's lifeboats was found at Bunbury, Western Australia two years later.[citation needed]


The accident contributed to an overhaul of the international maritime traffic separation system that was in force at the time.[5]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jack Devanney (2010-04-21). "The Strange History of Tank Inerting" (PDF). Center for Tankship Excellence. 
  2. ^ Naval Review. United States Naval Institute. 1973. 
  3. ^ "International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)". International Maritime Organization. 1974. 
  4. ^ Economist. 244: 67. 1972.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Navigation. Institute of Navigation. 27-28: 260. 1980 https://books.google.com/books?id=hWFWAAAAMAAJ.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°48′S 21°24′E / 34.80°S 21.40°E / -34.80; 21.40