On March 7, 1968, the Greek tank vessel General Colocotronis ran aground
on the east side of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas.
The vessel was loaded with approximately 119,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude oil.
The hull was severely damaged during the grounding causing the vessel
to spill approximately 37,000 barrels of oil into the Atlantic Ocean
at a location one and one-half miles offshore.
Approximately 72,500 barrels of oil were pumped from the vessel into another tanker, the Esso Margarita.
Steam lines were rigged to heat the cargo to facilitate pumping.
Moving the salvage vessels into position and offloading the remaining cargo
was performed during extremely severe weather.
Dive surveys reported that the keel was crushed and buckled
and that there was extensive damage to the hull of the vessel.
Salvage and response personnel decided
that the only feasible action was to sink the General Colocotronis.
Following the offloading operations,
the cargo tanks were flushed with dispersants to remove the residual oil.
The vessel was then towed out to deep water and sunk.
Approximately 37,000 barrels of crude oil rapidly spilled from the General Colocotronis.
The resulting slick spread out along the coast
and caused impacted recreational beaches and private residential shoreline.
In addition to the spilled cargo, an unknown quantity of the vessel's diesel bunker fuel also leaked out.
The oil impacted the sands of Eleuthera,
in some cases penetrating deep into the beach sand and forming layers as thick as two inches.
The coral reef was covered with oil.
The slick offshore was 14 miles long by two miles wide.