Precis File
SHIP NAME:BraerKEY:NUM. ENTRIES:7
sourceLMIU
typeC
volume
material
dead
link

Had main engine failure abt 10 miles S of Sumburgh Head, Shetland Islands, in heavy weather 05 Jan 1993 Crew evacuated Drifted and ran aground on rocks at Garths Ness, in 59 53.5 N 01 21.5 W Oil spill occurred Broke up in heavy seas.


sourceCEDRE
typeL
volume84500T
material
dead
linkhttp://www.le-cedre.fr/en/spill/braer/braer.php

IOPCF uses a figure of 84000T.


sourceITOPF
typeA
volume86200T
material
dead
linkhttp://www.itopf.com/casehistories.html#braer

Braer The Braer ran aground in severe weather conditions on Garth's Ness, Shetland on 5th January, 1993 and over a period of 12 days the entire cargo of 84,700 tonnes of Norwegian Gullfaks crude oil, plus up to 1,500 tonnes of heavy bunker oil, was lost as almost constant gales broke the ship apart. Weather conditions prevented the use of mechanical recovery equipment at sea, although about 130 tonnes of chemical dispersant was applied from aircraft during periods when the wind abated slightly and some oil remained on the surface. Oiling of shorelines was temporary and clean-up involved the collection of oily debris and seaweed by a small workforce.

The Braer spill was very unusual in that a surface slick was not produced. A combination of the light nature of the oil and the exceptionally strong wind and wave energy naturally dispersed the oil through the water column. The oil droplets were adsorbed onto sediment particles which eventually sunk to the sea bed. Sub-surface currents led to this oil being spread over a very wide area, although a significant portion eventually ended up in two deep, fine mud sediment `sinks'. A wide range of fish and shellfish over a fairly large area became contaminated with oil, resulting in the imposition of a Fisheries Exclusion Zone. Farmed salmon held in sea cages in the surface waters within this zone bore the brunt of the contamination since they could not escape the cloud of dispersed oil. Although this contamination was lost quickly once clean water conditions returned, millions of salmon that could not be marketed had to be destroyed. Although the Exclusion Zone was progressively lifted as fish and shellfish species were found by chemical analysis and taste testing to be free of contamination, it was still in place at the end of 1997 for a small Nephrops fishery in one of the fine mud areas.

The spill was unusual in that a significant amount of oil was blown on to land adjacent to the wreck site. The effects of this airborne oil were localised and had no more than a temporary effect on vegetation and sheep. Seabird casualties were also relatively low. Considering the size of the spill, the environmental impacts were surprisingly limited.


sourceCAHILL-S
typeD
volume
material
dead
link

Probably the best summary, focusing on the crew screw ups. The weather was very bad from the South throughout with the ship heavily rolling. The fact that the pipes were rolling side to side between the engine casing and the railing was known by morning of January 4th. The auxilary boiler, used for heating the HFO, flamed out around 2300 on the 4th. Shortly after midnight the ER crew realized that the fuel was contaminated by salt water, but apparently did not figure out the cause. About 0400 the master was awakened told about the problem, shortly thereafter the generator failed, and the ship blacked out. Emergency generator came on. About 0515, the master called Coast Guard informing them they were 10 mile S of Sumburgh Head. At 0529, Master called Coast Guard and requested a tow. With the ship drifting onto shore at more than 2 knots, there was no way the tugs could make it in time.

Cahill agrees that resecuring the pipes with the ship rolling so badly would have been extremely dangerous and probably not doable. But points out that the Master's obvious option would have been to heave to, bow into the sea, well away from land. Even if the pipes still could not be secured, he could wait for better weather when they could be. Cahill suggests the Master decided not to do this to avoid both the delay and the need to explain the cause of the delay.


sourceMAIB
typeD
volume84500T
material
dead
linkhttp://www.maib.gov.uk/sites/maib/publications/investigation_reports.cfm

Very good UK investigation report. But need to click on Archives and then on the Braer report.


sourceDaily Shipping News, 2002-06-30
typeD
volume
material
dead
link

Article reports claims of Shetland writer, Jonathan Wills, that the boiler needed relining but this was not done. Therefore, the boiler could not be lit to heat the heavy fuel. So ship had no choice but to stay on diesel. Cites retired Shetland pilot Bob Manson as confirming the story to The Scotsman.

The boiler may have needed relining but this does not seem to have been in the cause sequence. The boiler was the first to go. Even if the heavy fuel was not contaminated, the boiler would have had to be started up on diesel which we know was contaminated.


sourceCTX
typeD
volume84700T
material
dead0
link

Ship was loaded enroute from Norway to Canada via Fair Isles passage between Shetlands and Orkneys. Weather was very bad and ship rolling heavily. Ship lost power due to improperly secured pipes rolling around deck, destroying the fuel oil tank vents and allowing sea water into fuel. The Captain was told the pipes had come lose, at least a day earlier, but apparently failed to appreciate the importance of the problem, and in any event failed to react to the issue. Securing the pipes in this seaway would have been a very dangerous job. The fact that no one ventured out on deck to really check things out did not help.

Problem was exacerbated by ER crew being slow to identify the source of the problem. Captain was slow to ask for tug, despite the fact that he lost power in the narrow part of the passage between the Shetlands and the Orkneys.

The initial cause was the failure of the crew to secure the pipes properly, followed by the failure to resecure when they came lose. But this clearly is a spill in which engine room redundancy would have made a difference.

The Braer was insured for 12.7 million USD plus 6.3 million covering loss of hire. The tanker market was in a slump. The 17 year old ship was worth maybe five million dollars. The crew's lack of seamanship and the lack of ER redundancy made the owner something like ten million dollars. An extreme case of disparity between private cost/benefit and public.