On the night of 30 January 1988, off the western coast of Brittany,
some 60 nautical miles (110 km) from Penmarc'h,
the Italian oil tanker the Amazzone
suffered a violent storm from the northwest.
The Amazonne was travelling from Libya to Antwerp (Belgium),
via the Ushant Traffic Separation Scheme,
with 32,000 tonnes of a paraffinic crude onboard.
A 10 to 12 m swell and force 12 winds shook the ship.
The sea beat violently against the front desk of the vessel,
and eventually detached the steel cables.
The movement of the cables pulled off the covers
of 14 Butterworth openings, used for cleaning the tanks.
when the vessel reached the Pointe du Raz.
The crew did not discover the damage to the vessel
until the following day, in the early hours of the morning.
The commanding officer continued his journey,
less than 50 nautical miles off the coast.
He informed neither the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre,
Cross Corsen, nor the Préfecture Maritime, a legal requirement.
The tanker made her way up the Ushant Traffic Separation Scheme
in the storm. She did not stop in Brest to repair the damage.
It was not until some 12 hours after the damage had been discovered
that the insurers informed the authorities of the incident,
who noted the extent of the trail of pollutant left
in the wake of the Amazzone.
2100 tonnes of oil were spilled over a distance of nearly 300 km.
The paraffin-rich oil transported by the Amazzone
had been heated to 60 °C in the tanks.
When it came into contact with the wild sea,
it cooled down and formed an emulsion.
The slicks fragmented into small patches,
which were rapidly pushed towards the French coast by violent winds.