The sinking Amoco Cadiz
|Owner:||Amoco Transport Co.|
|Port of registry:||Liberia|
|Laid down:||24 November 1973|
|Out of service:||16 March 1978|
|Identification:||IMO number: 7336422|
|Fate:||Sunk at Coordinates:|
|Tonnage:||233,690 DWT; 109,700 GRT|
|Length:||334.02 m (1,095.9 ft)|
|Beam:||51.06 m (167.5 ft)|
|Draught:||19.80 m (65.0 ft)|
|Speed:||15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
|Capacity:||1.6 Mbbl (250×103 m3)|
Amoco Cadiz was a very large crude carrier (VLCC) owned by Amoco Transport Corp and transporting crude oil for Shell Oil. Operating under the Liberian flag of convenience, she ran aground on 16 March 1978 on Portsall Rocks, 5 km (3 mi) from the coast of Brittany, France. Ultimately she split in three and sank, resulting in the largest oil spill of its kind in history to that date.
On 16 March 1978 in a southwesterly gale, the Amoco Cadiz passed Ushant at the western tip of Brittany, headed for Lyme Bay in the United Kingdom. At 9:46 am when the supertanker was north of Ushant and 16 nautical miles (30 km; 18 mi) west of Portsall she turned to avoid another ship and her rudder jammed, full over to port. The captain shut down the engine and attempted to make repairs, but they were not successful. Meanwhile, the wind began blowing from the northwest, driving the ship toward the coast. By the time the tugboat Pacific successfully attached a hawser, it was 2:00 pm and the Amoco Cadiz had drifted 6 nautical miles (11 km; 6.9 mi) closer to the shore. For two hours, the tugboat struggled to slow the vessel's drift, but then the towline parted. The captain of the Amoco Cadiz turned his engines on full astern and this helped slow the ship's drift. At 7:00 pm, the captain shut down the engines so that the Pacific could try to attach another hawser. The supertanker dropped one anchor, but the flukes broke off. At this point the supertanker was drifting at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) toward the Portsall Rocks. A new towline was successfully attached at 8:55 pm but the Amoco Cadiz hit a rock soon afterward and began to leak. At 9:30 pm near the Corn-Carhai lighthouse, a rock ripped a hole in the ship and flooded the engine room.
Amoco Cadiz contained 1,604,500 barrels (219,797 tons) of light crude oil from Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia and Kharg Island, Iran. Severe weather resulted in the complete breakup of the ship before any oil could be pumped out of the wreck, resulting in her entire cargo of crude oil (belonging to Shell) and 4,000 tons of fuel oil being spilled into the sea.The US NOAA estimates that the total oil spill amounted to 220,880 metric tonnes of oil.