The World’s Worst Oil Spills In Over 30 Years


Oil tanker collided with a Bulk carrier in the East China Sea, 300 kilometres off Shanghai, China. The tanker caught fire, exploded and sank, killing all 32 members of its crew and spilling or burning more than 100,000 tonnes of petroleum products. 


On the afternoon, the Panama-registered oil tanker, was en route from Assaluyeh, Iran to Daesan, Republic of Korea, loaded with a cargo of condensate oil.

Meanwhile, the bulk carrier was bound from Kalama, US to Dongguan, China, loaded with sorghum in bulk. While both vessels were underway in East China Sea, they collided off Shanghai.

The collision breached the cargo tanks of oil tanker, resulting in the leakage of condensate oil and subsequent fire and explosions. After burning for over a week, the ship eventually sank. After burning for more than a week, the tanker sank, causing one of the worst oil spills in over 30 years.

The tanker was carrying 111,000 tonnes (810,000 barrels) of condensate – an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil, most of which evaporated after the fire. An estimated 1,941 tons of HFO was also in tanker’s fuel storage tanks. As a result, the accident created four separate slicks covering a total area of 100 square km, which is almost equivalent to the size of Paris, damaging beaches and the local fishing industry.


All the 32-crew, including 30 Iranian and 2 Bangladeshi, are considered perished in the disaster, with only three bodies found and 29 crew members remaining unaccounted for. The 23 Chinese crew members on Crystal were rescued.


According to investigation it was found that

  1. Both vessels failed to comply with the requirements of Rule 5 and Rule 7 of the COLREGs.
  2. During avoiding collision with small vessels, the 3/O attitude was negative. He expected the small vessels to take action even tanker was a give way vessel.
  3. Bulk carrier watchkeeping personnel had not noticed the tanker’s presence up to the time of collision.
  4. Both of the vessels had not noticed the change in navigational status of the other.
  5. No proper hand-over/take-over had occurred between the bulk carrier whatchkeeping personnel.
  6. Improper use of the AIS was observed as a navigational aid in not identifying the surrounding vessels.

Lesson learnt

  1. Effectiveness of training, drills and exercises be conducted for further enhancement in particular of the areas of Bridge watch handover procedures.
  2. Choke points and navigational congested areas be identified, and regional cooperation be maintained by the littoral States at the time of maritime search and rescue and salvage operations.
  3. Crew, watchkeeping officers and ratings be required not to rely on only one source of navigation information, and to use all the navigational aids available on board.
  4. Cargo handling requirements of condensate oil be further discussed by IMO, in order to promote related practices, including AIS warning messages (“Keep away over one mile”), etc
  5. Means be provided to contain inert gas pressure for tanks which are not breached.

Did you subscribe to our daily newsletter

It’s Free! Click here to subscribe!

Source: MSIN 18 2018 Report


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.