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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Metula KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 6
source ETC
type D
volume 331960B
material light arabian crude
dead
link


source OSCH
type A
volume 398020B
material light arabian crude/bunker C
dead
link

On August 9, 1974, at 2220, the VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) Metula ran hard aground on Satellite Bank, at the western end of First Narrows in the Strait of Magellan near the southern tip of South America. The vessel was traveling from west to east at nearly fifteen knots and came to a stop in approximately 260 feet (the Metula was over one thousand feet long and ordinarily required three miles to stop). Oil immediately began pouring into the water from ruptured cargo and fuel tanks.

Light Iranian crude oil has an API gravity of 33.4 and a pour point of -30 degrees F. Bunker C fuel oil is a heavy product with an API gravity that ranges from 7 to 14. The oil moved predominantly to the west into Bahia Felipe and Bahia Gregario, with lesser movement to the east into Bahia Posession. The oil was driven by currents as high as ten knots and winds from the northwest at thirty to fifty knots. Within the first three weeks, the wind forced the oil onto the northern shoreline of Tiera del Fuego. Oil deposited on the beach took on two different forms. A dark brown mousse with a five per cent water content plus sand, seaweed and other debris was deposited above the spring high-tide line and in the marshes and estuaries. A lighter mousse with a thirty per cent water in oil emulsion was deposited extensively in the intertidal zone. The lighter mousse coated the beaches from 18 to 55 yards wide and to a depth of 3 inches. Light mousse also covered the gravel and cobbles of the rocky intertidal area during low tide. At Punta Espora, the intertidal flats near the ferry were paved with a mixture of mousse, sand, gravel, organisms and other debris. The observed area was more heavily covered in the January 1975 survey than at the time of the incident. At sheltered tidal flats, as found at First Narrows, the thick asphalt-like covering persisted for over 12 years with no signs of significant weathering. In the heavily oiled salt marsh, nearly all the vegetation was still dead over five years later. Some of the less heavily oiled salt marshes showed signs of recovery after only five months.


source ITOPF
type D
volume 51000T
material C
dead
link http://www.itopf.com/casehistories.html#metula

The Metula grounded in the eastern Strait of Magellan, Chile, on 9th August, 1974. About 47,000 tonnes of light Arabian crude oil and 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil are estimated to be have been lost. Large volumes of emulsion were produced in the rough sea conditions and much of this landed on shores of northern Tierra del Fuego. Most of the shores affected were of mixed sand and gravel, but two small estuaries including saltmarshes were also oiled. About 4,000 birds are known to have been killed, including cormorants and penguins. No clean-up was done because of the remoteness of the area, and consequently this remains a spill site of foremost distinctiveness and interest for investigating the long-term fate and effects of heavy oiling. One very sheltered marsh received thick deposits of mousse and, in December 1993, these deposits still were visible on the marsh surface, with the mousse quite fresh in appearance beneath the weathered surface skin. Little plant re-colonisation has occurred in the areas with thicker deposits with a mean oil depth of 4 or more cm, though it is proceeding in more lightly oiled areas. On sand and gravel shores, an asphalt pavement remained in a relatively sheltered area in 1993, but oil deposits had mainly broken up and disappeared from more exposed shores.


source CAHILL_C
type D
volume
material
dead
link

Shell master had planned his ETA at the pilot station for 1000 LT on 9 August so as to have a rising tide just before high water at a shoal near Satelite Bank, minimum current when embarking pilot, and a daylight passage thru First Narrows. Tidal range is 24 (neap) to 40 (spring) feet. Current can be as high as 8 knots. But two Chilean pilots were delayed and did not come onboard until 1920. Pilots said OK to go thru at night, and Master acquiesed. Pilots were experienced but not in VLCC's. Two pilots monopolized both radars and ship did not plot position by visual bearings. Ships drifted a little north of intended track and pilots made right turn too soon. Pilots claimed they thought Metula would range ahead more than half a mile after the helm was put over. Another problem was course change put 3 knot adverse current on port bow pushing her further to the North.

Ship stranded on heading of 235 at 2218 grinding to a halt in a little over a quarter her length. 5 forward most compartments breached including two cargo tanks, spilling 6000 tons. On 11th dislodged by strong flood tide, swing to a heading of 185, holing her engine room. The next 47 days she lay starboard side to on a steep ledge, suffering further damage to other compartments, spilling some 50,000 tons.


source HOOKE
type D
volume 50000T
material Arab Light
dead 0
link

Loaded with 190,500 tons of Arab Light from Ras Tanura to Quintero. Stranded due to navigational error at 14.5 knots [must be thru water] on Satellite Bank at 2218 on August 9th.. Two cargo tanks holed. ER holed on night of August 11-12, resulting in loss of pwoer. 38 man crew evacuated. Not a CTL but scrapped anyway due to cost of repairs. Tosed to Santander for scrapping.


source CTX
type A
volume 53000T
material C
dead 0
link

On August 9, 1974, the VLCC Metula, laden with 194,000 tons of crude oil, sailing from the Arabian Gulf to Chile, ran aground at full speed at the end of the first narrows in the Strait of Magellan. After initially leaking about 6000 tons of her cargo, additional damage was caused by stormy weather and strong currents. A long difficult salvage operation ensued during which the the oil spill ultimately exceeded 50,000 tons and substantially damaged beaches, birds and marine life in the Strait. This quote appears to be based on USCG, Report of the Metula Grounding, Polluting and Refloating in the Strait of Magellan in 1974 and Harm, Roy W, VLCC Metula Oil Spill, Final Report to the Coast Guard, December, 1974 but CTX has not yet reviewed either of these documents.

MIT79 puts this spill at 57,000LT. Itopf says 50,000 tons. The OSCH account is confused on at least two issues: the type of crude and the direction the ship was traveling.

This ship was a 206,000 tonner, so she was part loaded, which is usually a sign that they are pushing draft limits pretty hard.

Ake Vissar says ship was scrapped as Tula.

Cahill references a Netherlands Maritime Institute report called Round the Horn or Through the Magellan Strait.

Hard to say if this is a navigation or guidance error. GPS would have alerted the ship they were north of track, but biggest problem seems to be the pilots' early turn so for now calling it guidance. Despite the fact that three Shell V's had made this passage prior to Metula, Straits of Magellan is probably not a good place for a VLCC, especially a single screw ship, and in fact Chileans limited Straits to 80,000 tons and 50 ft draft after Metula. Of course, no single screw tanker of any size should make this passage.

Naess says she stranded at high tide, but Cahill makes it clear that, while the Captain intended to make this part of the passage at high tide, the pilots were delayed and she went aground near low tide. Not clear why she spilled so much initially if she did. We need the vertical depth of penetration. Most of the oil was spilled after she refloated and then regrounded, probably on an ebb tide.