Precis File
SHIP NAME:VenpetKEY:NUM. ENTRIES:5
sourceOSCH
typeD
volume219000B
materialIranian Heavy/BFO
dead
link

On the morning of December 16, 1977, the Venoil and the Venpet collided 40 miles off Cape St. Francis, South Africa. The Venpet was damaged, releasing burning bunker oil over the starboard deck of the Venoil and into the surrounding water. The Venoil suffered serious fire damage. The impact also holed two of the Venoil's tanks. Both ships were abandoned, and began to drift towards the coast. The fires on board both vessels went out as they drifted.

Iranian Heavy crude oil has an API gravity of 31.0, and a pour point of -5 degrees F. Bunker fuel oil is a heavy product with an API gravity that ranges from 7 to 14. Approximately 155,000 barrels of Iranian heavy crude oil, and 33,000 barrels of bunker fuel oil spilled from the Venoil. Approximately 31,000 barrels of bunker fuel oil spilled from the Venpet, in ballast at the time of the collision. Of the 219,000 barrels of oil spilled, it is estimated that 25 percent burned. Overflights on December 17 revealed a slick of emulsified oil 25 miles from the coast and moving west. The slick moved towards the coast for a week. By December 24, the oil was in the Plettenberg Bay area, four miles from the coast of the Tsitsikama Nature Reserve. A day later the oil moved away from the coast in a WSW direction. A previously undiscovered slick was found in the area between Plettenberg Bay and Mossel Bay on December 25. The slick consisted of patches of emulsified oil in a 100 square-mile area. The slick moved in a westerly direction. On December 28, the oil came ashore and, over the next four days, 80 miles of shoreline were impacted. Most of the area received light oiling, with the area between the Little Brak and Great Brak rivers receiving some heavy concentrations of oil. Oil impacted the river banks, mudflats, sandflats, marshes, and a reef in that area. Oil also sank in the river and nearby lagoons as sand became incorporated into the mousse and salinity levels dropped. Oil reached two miles up the Little Brak River. Overflights on January 3 revealed that there was no oil in the water in the area 45 miles from the shore between Cape Agulhas and Port Elizabeth.

Both vessels were taken under tow to prevent their grounding near the coast. By December 18, the Venoil was 30 miles from the coast, and the Venpet was 47 miles away. The vessels were towed into the Agulhas Current so that any release of oil would be carried away from the shoreline. The Venpet was brought to Algoas Bay for repairs on December 24. The Agulhas Current carried the Venoil and one tug 250 miles southwest of the coast. Two tugs were required to tow the Venoil into Algoas Bay, where it arrived on January 1, 1978. Lightering operations began on January 4 and were completed on January 7. i


sourceETC
typeD
volume194615B
materialcrude
dead
link

This source says 170,635B crude from Venoil and 23,980B BFO from Venpet.


sourceCAHILL_C
typeD
volume26000T
materialcrude
dead
link

Both these ships were owned by Bethlehem Steel and operated by ship manager MTL. Venoil was loaded with 307,000 tons of Iran Heavy for Pt Tupper. Venpet was in ballast. In dense fog, Venoil figured they would pass port to port. Venpet figured they would pass starboard to starboard. No real plotting by either ship. In extremis, Venoil went starboard, Venpet went port.

Venoil hit Venpet on starboard side aft. Venoil anchor tore Venpet shell plating from 5S aft to Engine room. Venoil's 1 (P?) and forward bunker tanker were breached, Oil caught fire and Venpet had to be abandoned. Later reboarded. 26000 tons oil spilled. Both ships had IGS and it was in operation. Cahill thinks this probably kept things from getting a lot worse.

Despite the same company and both crews Taiwanese, neither ship tried to contact the other.


sourceOSIR
typeD
volume30715TB
materialcrude
dead
link

This source says 27,286T from Venoil and 3429T from Venpet.


sourceCTX
typeD
volume219000B
materialC
dead
link

These were sister ships owned by the same company. The rumour at the time was that they were manuevering close to each other, so they could exchange movies. But Cahill says Liberian report found no evidence of this, nor did he. It is probable they were unaware of each other's identity until after the collision.

This is a classic dance of death abetted by lack of plotting. ARPA's might have helped, but the real help would have been communication facilitated with AIS or the like.

www.shipspotting.com has a pretty good picture of the Venpet damage. The Venpet was struck at a fairly shallow angle on the starboard side aft. The damage extends from about 50 m forward of the accommodations to a few meters aft of the forward end of the accommdation. Vertically the damage extends from just above the light ballast water line to 3 or 4 meters below the deck. The depth of penetration is hard to estimate from the photo, but it is at least 5 or 6 meters.

Both ships were inerted. Without inerting, this casualty would probably been a lot worse.

Hooke's says cargo loss was agreed by insurers to be 21,285 LT. This was an unusual if not unique casualty in that the hitter spilled more than the hittee.