Precis File
SHIP NAME:Amoco CadizKEY:NUM. ENTRIES:11
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sourceLMIU
typeC
volumeY
material
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Grounded during heavy weather on Men Goulven Rocks, off Portsall, Brittany, in 48 35 20 N 04 42 50 W Mar 16 1978, after drifting due to rudder-engine failure Subsequently broke in three Massive oil spill.


sourceSIS
typeD
volume
material
dead
link

Grounded after steering gear failure


sourcePSI
typeL
volume
material
dead
linkgabe.web.psi.ch/PSI_Report/ENSAD98.pdf

This report has a good summary of the Claimed and Awarded Damages on p 115. This table is based on an earlier paper by Sharples.


sourceOSCH
typeD
volume1619048B
materialArab Light, Iranian light, Bunker C
dead
link

On March 16, 1978, the Amoco Cadiz ran aground on Portsall Rocks, three miles off the coast of Brittany due to failure of the steering mechanism. The vessel had been en route from the Arabian Gulf to Le Havre, France when it encountered stormy weather which contributed to the grounding. The entire cargo of 1,619,048 barrels, spilled into the sea. A slick 18 miles wide and 80 miles long polluted approximately 200 miles of Brittany coastline. Beaches of 76 different Breton communities were oiled. The isolated location of the grounding and rough seas restricted cleanup efforts for the two weeks following the incident. Severe weather resulted in the complete break up of the ship before any oil could be pumped out of the wreck. As mandated in the "Polmar Plan", the French Navy was responsible for all offshore operations while the Civil Safety Service was responsible for shore cleanup activities. Although the total quantity of collected oil and water reached 100,000 tons, less than 20,000 tons of oil were recovered from this liquid after treatment in refining plants.

Both Arabian Light and Iranian Light crude oil are medium weight oils with an API gravity of 33.8. Bunker C is a heavy product with an API of between 7 and 14. A 12-mile long slick and heavy pools of oil were smeared onto 45 miles of the French shoreline by northwesterly winds. Prevailing westerly winds during the following month spread the oil approximately 100 miles east along the coast.


sourceCEDRE
typeD
volume227000T
material
dead
linkhttp://www.le-cedre.fr/en/spill/amoco/amoco.php


sourceETC
typeD
volume1619048B
materialLight Arabian crude
dead
link

Osir puts spill at 66,668,000 gallons.


sourceITOPF
typeA
volume227000T
material
dead
linkhttp://www.itopf.com/casehistories.html#amococadiz

Amoco Cadiz The Amoco Cadiz ran aground off the coast of Brittany on 16th March, 1978. Over a period of two weeks the entire cargo of 223,000 tonnes of light Iranian and Arabian crude oil and 4,000 tonnes of bunker fuel was released into heavy seas. Much of the oil quickly formed a viscous water-in-oil emulsion, increasing the volume of pollutant by up to four times. By the end of April oil and emulsion had contaminated 320 km of the Brittany coastline, and had extended as far as the Channel Islands.

Strong winds and heavy seas prevented an effective offshore recovery operation. In total, approximately 3,000 tonnes of dispersants were used, as well as some chalk sinking agent which transferred part of the problem to the sea bed. The at-sea response did little to reduce shoreline oiling. A wide variety of shore types was affected, including sandy beaches; cobble and shingle shores; rocks, seawalls and jetties; mudflats and saltmarshes. Removal of bulk free oil trapped against the shore using skimmers proved difficult, largely due to problems with seaweed and debris mixed with the oil. Greater success was achieved with vacuum trucks and agricultural vacuum units, although much of the free oil was simply removed by hand by more than 7,000 personnel (mainly military). A considerable portion of the oil that did come ashore eventually became buried in sediments and entrapped in the low energy salt marshes and estuaries.

At the time, the Amoco Cadiz incident resulted in the largest loss of marine life ever recorded after an oil spill. Mortalities of most animals occurred over the two-month period following the spill. Two weeks after the accident, millions of dead molluscs, sea urchins, and other benthic species washed ashore. Although echinoderm and small crustacean populations almost completely disappeared from some areas, populations of many species had recovered within a year. Diving birds constituted the majority of the nearly 20,000 dead birds that were recovered. Oyster cultivation in the estuaries ("Abers") was seriously affected and an estimated 9,000 tonnes were destroyed because of contamination and to safeguard market confidence. Other shell and fin fisheries (including seaweed gathering) were seriously affected in the short-term, as was tourism. Clean-up activities on rocky shores, such as pressure-washing, as well as trampling and sediment removal on salt marshes caused habitat impact. Failure to remove oil from temporary oil collection pits on some soft sediment shorelines before inundation by the incoming tide also resulted in longer-term contamination.


sourceSpills a Matter of Liability, Anchorage Daily News, 1989-07-05
typeA
volume
material
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linkhttp://www.adn.com/evos/Stories/EV332.html

In Portsall, a fishing village of 1,200 located on a knob of France that juts into the North Atlantic, people awoke on March 17, 1978, to find one of the biggest ships in the world wrecked and broken on the rocks off their beach, and a black tide rolling in.

During the next two weeks, as it slowly sank, the Amoco Cadiz spilled 65 million gallons of Arabian and Iranian crude oil into the sea off the French coast. Eventually it spread, thinning to a slick that moved 200 miles east, blackening the white sands and rocky shores of 100 coastal communities. But on that first day, so much oil was dumped so quickly and so close to shore that when the tide came in at Portsall, petroleum, not water, filled the harbor. years after the worst tanker grounding in history, the owners of the Amoco Cadiz have paid not one penny in damages to anyone. The case is still in litigation in Chicago and seems doomed to remain in federal court for several more years.

Machines fail, and so do men. From a victim's point of view, the 1978 wreck of the Amoco Cadiz, still the largest grounding disaster in history, is an example. Cadiz was one of four VLCCs (very large crude carriers) built for Amoco in the early 1970s by Astilleros Espanoles ancient and respected shipwrights who 500 years earlier built the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. At 1,095 feet, the Cadiz was 108 feet longer the Exxon Valdez. March 1978, two of the giant tankers were being used by Amoco to ferry its own oil around the world and two were leased out to other oil companies. The Cadiz was on longterm lease to Shell Oil.

For Capt. Pasquale Bardari and his crew of 40, March 16 was the last day of a sixweek voyage with a full load of crude oil from the Persian Gulf. Their trip took them down the west coast of Africa, around the Horn and up the Atlantic coast en route to the Netherlands, with a stop first in England. Bardari, 35, had served on Amoco vessels since 1970, overcoming a series of unsatisfactory evaluations to eventually become a captain in 1975. This was his first trip in charge of the Cadiz.

Galeforce winds and seas rough enough to bounce around 233,000 tons of steel pounded the tanker as it reached the northwestern tip of France and made a right turn into the English Channel, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. In his book "Superwreck," author Rudi Chelminski estimated that "something like a billion tons of merchandise a year, or a quarter of the world's circulation of goods," pass through the English Channel, including 300 million gallons of crude oil a day.

To promote safety, the Channel has a lane system similar to the one in Valdez: an "in" lane, an "out" lane and a noman's lane between. For reasons that have never been fully explained, the Amoco Cadiz was outside the inlane boundary that morning, far to the right, toward France. Bardari said later he moved right to avoid a small tanker coming out of the Channel in the wrong lane, an incident no one else on board remembered, according to Chelminski. Bardari also said one of the crew made a navigation error.

Whatever the reasons, it was a bad time to be in the wrong place. At 9:45 a.m., as enormous waves pounded the ship, washing over the decks, and winds gusted at 40 miles per hour, the hydraulic steering system failed. Suddenly, the Amoco Cadiz was adrift out of control and headed toward shore 10 miles away.

It took nearly 12 hours for the giant ship to float onto the Portsall Rocks, a shoal so treacherous even small boats avoid it. Why no one figured out how to stop the tanker's helpless drift toward disaster is a question that has been examined for more than 10 years. Every action that Bardari took or didn't take has been criticized by someone. Every move made or not made by a German tugboat, Pacific, which hurried to the scene and tried to tow the tanker to safety was reviewed by experts and challenged in court.

Among the questions: Why did Bardari fail to issue a general SOS until he was actually aground? Why did he haggle over the cost of the tug and did the squabbling between him and the tugboat captain slow down rescue efforts? And what kind of instructions did Bardari receive from his Amoco bosses during the many radiophone calls placed that day between the ship and corporate headquarters in Chicago? What seems certain is that it took Bardari too long to understand that his ship was in mortal danger. He didn't realize the pitching tanker was too heavy to be towed by one tug. No one realized it because no one had ever tried to tow a tanker that heavy.

During the long March day, the tide came and went, the current changed and plan after plan was debated, but nothing stopped the drift toward shore. By the time the inevitable became obvious, no other boats were close enough to get there before time ran out. At 9:04 p.m., with the Pacific's line still attached, the Amoco Cadiz floated on a high spring tide onto the killer rocks and split in two. Most sources say the ship did not split in two until the 24th. The oil spilled first in floods, then in lessening amounts for nearly two weeks. On the 12th day, the French Navy blew up what remained of the broken hull with depth charges to release any trapped residue that might become a problem in the future.

The cleanup began quickly, and ran into problems now familiar to Alaskans. Booms were used to protect estuaries and mariculture facilities, "but a combination of improper deployment, strong currents and rising tides made the booms ineffective," according to a synopsis by oilspill historian Richard Golob.

"Bureaucratic confusion reigned," wrote Chelminski. "Later investigation showed that (the French oilspill plan) involved no less than eight ministries, each one having its own priorities and jealously guarded prerogatives, and was capable of dealing with a slick of no more than 18.5 kilometers (11 miles)."

Skimmers provided by the government were ineffective; pig manure pumps, offered by local farmers, worked, as did shovels, rakes and elbow grease. "The less sophisticated the equipment, the greater was the success," Chelminski concluded.

The French government and local communities conducted and paid for most of the clean up. Fisheries along the Brittany coast took about three years to recover, according to Golob's report. Some species never came back and tar balls still wash up on the beach now and then.

According to a 1983 study by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the tourism industry along the Brittany coast lost between $28 million and $60 million. NOAA valued the lost tanker at from $15 million to $24 million and the lost cargo at another $24 million. And the list goes on.

The French government paid $12 million to fishermen and others to offset their losses. The government has yet to be reimbursed by anyone. Amoco's position is straightforward: The company is not responsible for the failure of the steering system, and therefore has no obligation to pay for the damage caused by the spill.

What can Alaskans learn from the wreck of the Amoco Cadiz? According to Joseph Pizzurro of Curtis, Mallet, Provost, the New York law firm representing the affected French towns, Alaska can start by being grateful that the Exxon Valdez was an American owned ship. "Exxon is a United States oil company that spilled oil in the United States and has got a real problem from a public relations standpoint that Amoco never had," Pizzurro said. "It made a tremendous difference in the way the two companies have reacted. It will continue to make a difference." Consider what the people of Portsall faced when they woke up on March 17 to find oil at their door: The Amoco Cadiz was owned on paper by Amoco Transport Co., a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Bermuda. Amoco Transport's owner was Standard Oil, an American corporation. The crew was Italian. The builders were Spanish. The cargo belonged to the Royal Dutch| Shell group. The victim, France, got oiled because the tanker just happened to be passing that country when its steering failed. So, who was responsible? "Amoco took a very early strong, adverse, sort of a "screw you guys' attitude toward the whole thing and has maintained that till today," Pizzurro said.

In the lawsuits that followed, France, the fishermen and the coastal communities sued Amoco and the Spanish shipbuilders, Astilleros Espanoles, which designed the hydraulic steering mechanism that failed; Amoco sued the German tugboat, France and Astilleros. Amoco accused the French of failing to prevent the spill, although Bardari never asked for help, then of botching the cleanup.

Alaskans can also learn not to assume a tanker is well designed or well maintained just because its owners have $23 million invested in it. In 1984, Judge Frank McGarr of the U.S. District court in Chicago found Amoco and the Spanish shipbuilders responsible for the wreck of the Cadiz. The steering system was not designed to be strong enough for such a heavy tanker in such heavy seas, the judge said. And even if the design was good, Astilleros Espanoles did not build to specifications.

For instance, the hydraulic steering mechanism blew apart when five of six half-inch thick studs holding a flange failed. The studs should have been three-quarters of an inch thick. Amoco was found liable largely because of its dismal maintenance record, and because it knew from the first voyage of the Cadiz that the steering mechanism was flawed and failed to repair it, according to McGarr. Descriptions of the steering gear room, most taken from reports by Amoco's own inspectors, called it damp and dirty, with dripping oil and leaking steam pipes. McGarr found that Amoco failed to change the oil, remove sludge and clean the filters. Hydraulic fluid leaked out, air leaked in and there wasn't enough pressure to hold the rudder against the storming sea.

Amoco originally scheduled the ship for dry docking and maintenance once a year. Before the Cadiz was launched, Amoco changed the maintenance period, first to once every 18 months, then once every two years and, in 1976, once every 21|2 years. The number of days in dry dock was reduced from 14 to eight. In fact, the Cadiz was drydocked for repairs only once in four years, the judge found. The lack of maintenance was a deliberate decision, made "in order to realize a cost savings of $1.25 million in shipyard costs and $200,000 per year in offhire losses," McGarr concluded. The two VLCCs used by Amoco to move its own oil were given regular maintenance, he noted. But, by mid1977, Amoco's goal was to operate the Cadiz, on longterm lease to Shell, "throughout the remainder of her charter with no down time."

Amoco plans to appeal the judgment once it is made final, said Mike Thompson, the company's media director in Chicago. "These are not final decisions," he said. In preliminary findings issued in 1988 and earlier this year, McGarr awarded the spill victims damages totaling $117.5 million, in most cases awarding specific victims only a fraction of what they claimed. He noted a tendency toward exaggeration and a lack of evidence supporting claimed costs. In at least one case, the judge noted there was double billing the same expense was submitted to Amoco that was presented to the owners of another tanker that spilled oil in the same area two years later. He also penalized the government of France for limiting the use of dispersants to water deeper than 50 meters (165 feet). McGarr said there was no scientific basis for the decision, which "seems to have been solely the result of pressure from ecology and nature groups."

No damages were awarded to anyone for general damage to the environment. "Basically the court took the position that it was impossible to determine who had a property interest, a right in the ecology," said Pizzurro, the lawyer for the damaged French communities. "There was no one who had a right that could be remedied, so it's just too bad."

McGarr based his decisions on French law, but according to Pizzurro, it's not that different in effect from American law. Astilleros Espanoles, the shipbuilder, refused to accept U.S. jurisdiction and did not defend itself at trial. The company reportedly has no assets in the U.S., which leaves Amoco holding the bag for all the damages eventually awarded. They presumably will go after Astilleros in Spain. "Amoco intends to pursue their rights against the Spanish shipbuilders," said Thompson, the company spokesman.

Bardari also skipped the trial. With the exception of an early hearing in London by the Liberian government, he refused to answer any questions on the grounds that he faced possible criminal prosecution in France in connection with the wreck. In general, a person charged with a criminal offense cannot be required to testify in any inquiry until the charges have been tried and appealed. No one prosecuted Bardari and, despite his absence, McGarr absolved him of responsibility for the wreck of the Amoco Cadiz.


sourceIn the Matter of Oil Spill by Amoco Cadiz off the Coast of France on March 16,1978
typeD
volume
materialC
dead
linkhttp://www.kozacky.com/matter_oil_spill_by.pdf

This is a copy of the Appeals Court ruling basically upholding the original ruling. The best factual summary CTX has found on the web.


sourceGray, Port State Control, Where to Now?
typeA
volume
materialC
dead
link

Judge Frank J. McGarr documented that her steering gear was seriously deficient right from delivery, her management knew it and deliberately decided not to repair it -- twice!! -- because they didn't want her off hire from a high charter rate. Quite tellingly they had repaired the steering gears in her three sisters immediately because under the the very low charter rates then common, which these ships earned, the economic penalty was minor compared to Amoco Cadiz.


sourceCTX
typeD
volume227000T
materialC
dead
link

Five of six studs holding one of the hydraulic pipe flanges failed, spewing hydraulic fluid all over the place. Air entered the system, the rudder was free to swing violently back and forth, progressively destroying the system. Hydraulic fluid was spread all over the steering gear room, which combined with the vessel motion, made it very difficult and unsafe to repair or even recharge the system. Engine room crew abandoned the effort.

During the trial, it came out that the the ABS approved steering gears on this class of ship had a long history of problems. They were both under-speced and then not built to spec. In particular, they were built with hard cast iron bushings rather than bronze as they should have been per design. These hard bushings plowed grooves in the rams. As a result, the steering gear on the Cadiz was leaking seven to twelve liters per day. Normally, these rams should leak only a few drops per day.

Amoco was aware of the problem and had in fact replaced the iron bushes with bronze on two of the four sister ships. But not on the Amoco Cadiz nor the Amoco Milford Haven. The Cadiz and Milford Haven (later to be famous as the Haven) were on time charter to Shell at $28,000 per day, a highly lucrative rate. The other two ships were in the spot market where the rates barely paid fuel costs, so there was little commercial cost in taking these ships out of service to replace the bushes. When the Cadiz went ashore, she had a set of bronze bushes on-board as spares.

The ship's Classification Society, ABS, was aware of all this, had surveyed the steeering gear on three occasions, and each time pronounced it seaworthy. ABS was sued by various parties. Apparently, they settled out of court with the French government and the Cotes du Nord communities, but CTX does not know the terms.

The is the prototypical spill in which engine room redundancy would have made all the difference. But redundancy means little unless each engine room is highly reliable in its own right.