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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Kurdistan KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 5
source OSCH
type A
volume 43900B
material bunker C
dead
link

On March 15, 1979, the British motor tanker Kurdistan, en route from Nova Scotia to Quebec, broke in two sections south of Cabot Strait, Newfoundland. The damage was attributed to a fracture initiated by a weld defect and aggravated by wave impacts on the bow at low temperatures. Although the tanker remained intact for some time after the initial hull plate failure, the bow and stern sections eventually separated and spilled an estimated 43,900 barrels of Bunker C into Cabot Strait. The bow and stern sections drifted towards Canadian waters. Approximately 50,000 barrels of oil remained in the bow section while 115,000 barrels remained in the stern. A wide band of mobile pack ice initially prevented the spilled oil from reaching the shoreline. The Environmental Protection Service (EPS) immediately initiated the formation of the Regional Environmental Emergencies Team (REET) to provide assistance and advice to the Canadian Coast Guard's (CCG) On-Scene Commander (OSC). REET members included the Atmospheric Environment Service, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, and Fisheries Management Service. The REET was divided into three sections to deal with the three distinct problems: the bow, the stern, and the oil spill cleanup. Under Lloyds Open Forum, the stern section was towed to Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, to recover remaining oil. The bow section was towed to a deep water area 200 nautical miles off Nova Scotia and sunk by gunfire from the HMCS Margaree on April 1, 1979. Oil started coming ashore in April and two cleanup control centers were established at Low Point and Mulgrave, Nova Scotia. The oil continued to contaminate shorelines along the eastern coast of Nova Scotia throughout the summer.

Bunker C fuel oil is a heavy product with an API gravity that ranges from 7 to 14. The oil slick movement was very difficult to track and monitor because the oil appeared to float a meter or two below the surface of the water. Ice-oil mixtures, first seen on March 23, moved to the northwest during the following two days at a mean rate of 8 to 10 miles per day. Oil first came ashore on March 28, although the majority of oil did not come ashore until mid-April, after shore-fast ice was gone. Oil on the beaches was not in the form of mousse as expected, rather, it consisted of "toffee-like" particles ranging in diameter from millimeters to several meters. The Cape Breton shoreline and the mainland coast of Nova Scotia were most severely contaminated. Oil washed ashore in varying amounts from St. Ann's Bay in north Cape Breton to as far south as Canso in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia.


source ETC
type L
volume 110000B
material bunker C/naptha
dead
link


source Canadian report
type A
volume
material
dead 0
link

On 15 March 1979, the 30,000 DWT British tanker Kurdistan, carrying 29,662 tons of bunker C oil, sailed through the ice-infested waters of the Cabot Strait between Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland, on its way from the oil refinery at Point Tupper, Nova Scotia to Quebec City, Quebec. At 1420 LT while navigating in gale force winds about 90 km NE of Sydney, Nova Scotia, the Kurdistan developed several cracks below the waterline in its No 3 port, center and starboard tanks and began to leak oil

The Canadian CG ship Sir William Alexander arrived with surveyors to assess the hazard and advised the Kurdistan to proceed to Sydney, the nearest port of refuge. Shortly thereafter the Kurdistan split in half, spilling 7,000 tons of oil from its No 3 tanks. Both sections of the vessel remained afloat and reportedly did not leak any further oil. Operating under hazardous conditions, the Sir William Henry safely removed all 41 crew members for the stern section of the Kurdistan.

Stupidly did not get report title, but this is from ITOPF library.

source TSB Marine Investigation Report M02L0021
type A
volume
material
dead
link

This is an investigation into the brittle fracture of the Bulk Carrier Lake Carling, 2002-03-19, by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. It has a footnote which says

The Kurdistan shell plates, almost entirely of Grade A steel, were found to have 27 Joule Charpy transition temperatures of between 5 and 20C.


source CTX
type L
volume 93900B
material F
dead
link

The standard take on this casualty is that it was brittle fracture. Howarth, the head of LR's Materials Division says

For example, the MV Kurdistan broke in two as the result of a brittle fracture in 1979 at the edge of an ice field off Canada. [MER, May 2005, page 68]

but offers no support for this statement. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board also believes this was a brittle fracture. The CTX has listed it as such in the database.

But we really don't know. The CTX would not be surprised if corrosion played a very important role in this loss. The Charpy numbers are not that bad for Grade A steel. Canadians claim problem started below waterline, amidships. And 1420 would have been the warmest part of the day. That doesn't sound like a brittle fracture. True brittle fractures make a loud gunshot sound. Yet there is no mention of such a noise in the reports that the CTX has seen.

We need to know if the 3 wings were the permanent ballast tanks. If so, its quite possible they were badly corroded. Leakage into these tanks overloaded the hull in sag. However, once they got a big crack going could have propagated brittlely. We just don't know.

This ship was repaired and became Simonburn. ETC has another spill in 1979/03/.. no date. CTX is assuming that this is the same spill.