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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Khark 5 KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 6
source OSCH
type A
volume 452400B
material Iranian Heavy
dead
link

On December 19, 1989, the Iranian tanker Khark 5 bound for refineries in Northern Europe exploded and caught fire approximately 400 miles north of the Canary Islands. An estimated 452,400 barrels (19 million gallons) of the 1,714,300 barrels (72 million gallons) on board spilled into the sea. The 35 crew members were rescued by the passing Soviet vessel Sarny. Ocean currents carried the abandoned vessel south towards the Canary Islands.

Smit Tak, a Dutch salvage company, repaired a 60 foot by 90 foot hole in the vessel's port side. Early efforts to tow the damaged vessel away from the shore were hampered by 8-foot waves and high winds. On January 1, a tug secured a line to the Khark 5 and began towing the vessel towards the Madeira Islands off Portugal as Morocco and Spain refused to allow the vessel close to their shores. Fourteen aircraft and seven boats were used to spray detergents on the slick.

Iranian Heavy crude oil has an API gravity of 31, a viscosity of 9.36 centistokes, and a pour point of -5 degrees F. The ITOPF representative flew over the stricken vessel on December 21 and 24 from London and reported oil leaking from the ship at a slow rate. The ITOPF representative conducted daily overflights based from Morocco beginning on December 29. Over the next few days he reported that oil was staying in the same general offshore areas with a southwesterly longshore drift. A large slick from the initial release drifted to within 12 miles coast of Morocco by January 2. On a January 5 overflight, the AST representative observed significant quantities of oil, but widely scattered and mostly sheen with scattered 100 yard by 50 yard patches of mousse. The closest mousse patch was 18 miles offshore while the majority of mousse was 60-70 miles offshore. The French government used a side looking airborne radar (SLAR) and infrared (IR) sensor equipped Cessna aircraft on daily overflights. They did not observe oil within 20 miles of the coast. Oil was reported on a 1 kilometer stretch of shoreline south of Casablanca. An estimated 75 per cent of the spilled oil evaporated, was dissipated by wave action, or was dispersed into the water column.


source CEDRE
type A
volume 70000T
material
dead
link http://www.le-cedre.fr/en/spill/khark/khark.php

Another Cedre source says This vessel loaded with 250,000 tons of Iranan Light crude was en route from Kharg Island to Europoort when she was damaged during a storm off Morocco. A spark caused explosions followed by fire. 70000 tons of the cargo spilled out and a large quantity get 50 km close to Moroccan coasts before dispersing.


source AIMU
type A
volume 40000T,60000T
material crude
dead
link http://www.iumi.com/Conferences/2001_genoa/Stampa/Prebble.rtf

On 19th December 1989 the tanker KHARK 5, which we can see here, was laden with a cargo of about 250,000 tons of Iranian crude oil and was travelling from Kharg Island to Europoort in the Netherlands when she suffered several explosions just as she was passing the north-west coast of Morocco.

The crew abandoned ship, and 3 days later the blaze was extinguished by Smit-Tak under a LOF contract The vessel was without power and had a hole 20 metres high by 30 metres wide in her port side which we can see in the photographs.

The Authorities in both Spain, and Morocco, refused the salvors' permission to tow the vessel close to their coasts. This caused more oil to leak from the tanker and altogether between 40,000- 60,000 tons of crude are estimated to have leaked into the sea. A further 200,000 tons of crude still remained on board the vessel. Confronted with this lack of assistance from local authorities, the salvors proceeded south in search of calmer waters to enable them to perform a ship to ship transfer. The Khark 5 was not allowed to approach within 200 miles of the Canaries and was shadowed by a Spanish naval vessel. The Portuguese Authorities then refused permission for her to enter territorial waters off Madeira. Senegal and the Cape Verde Islands also banned the vessel.

On 27th January, a further oil spill took place due to the rupture of some damaged pipe work in heavy seas but eventually the cargo transfer operation took place, nearly a month and a half later when the ship was some 250 miles west of Sierra Leone!

The vessel was then able to sail under her own power to Greece where she was repaired. The salvage award in this case was DFL18 million on a fund of DFL65 million. Had the salvors been able to carry out the STS in (say) Cadiz Harbour in late December/early January it is likely that the hull and cargo insurers would have paid as little as DFL10 million.


source EMBIRICOS
type A
volume 70000T
material
dead
link

The Khark 5 pollution accident resulted in a bigger spill than that of the Exxon Valdez. During a voyage from the Middle East the ship, with a cargo of some 250,000 odd tonnes and in an inerted condition, was caught in a bad storm off the Moroccan coast. According to the owners, a gangway had become loose and was responsible for the ensuing explosion. Parts of the side shell and internal structure in the area of amidship were ripped off, thereby releasing some 70,000 tonnes of oil through an enormous hole of some 5,000 sq ft in the side shell.

As in all such cases, it is very difficult to trace the root causes of the accident. However, by analyzing the characteristics of the damage in the manner of a forensic expert, it is possible to come to pretty unassailable conclusions. What is certain is that the port ballast tank, the adjacent side and centre tanks were damaged and the oil escaped into the sea. There was no report of failure of inert gas, and it is therefore a near certainty that the first explosion occurred in the ballast tanks. This is also borne out by the photographs, which show an enormous opening in the side of the ship in the midship area, which is where the segregated ballast tanks are located. On a pre-Marpol single hull such as the Khark 5. Embiricos goes on to finger a crack from the cargo tanks to the port ballast tank allowing the build up of hydrocarbon vapors as the cause of the explosion.


source OSIR
type A
volume 68027T
material
dead
link

Says: Explosion, hull puncture in severe weather Puts location at 32.22N, 28.00E, 185 km off Moroccan Coast. [This lat/long is somewhere in the Middle east.]


source CTX
type A
volume 70000T
material C
dead
link

Embiricos says that the owners claimed that a gangway had become loose and was responsible for the ensuing explosion. Embiricos regards this as highly implausible and CTX agrees. For one thing, if the explosion started in a cargo tank, the location of the damage would have been quite different.

The Khark 5, was owned by the National Iranian Oil Company, and was probably not a sound ship, having been damaged in the war three times. The Iranians did not do a good job of maintaining their ship's steel during the Iran-Iraq War, so ballast tank corrosion is probable. But they also learned the value of inert gas, which was a major factor in containing the effects of an Exocet attack.

There is no way a loose gangway can penetrate the 30 mm thick steel deck of a pre-Marpol VLCC. If the inert gas system was operating, any cargo tank vapors reaching the deck would not have been flammable. The only source of flammable vapors would have been a cargo leak into the non-inerted ballast tanks. A loose gangway could have caused the spark that set the ballast tank vapors off.

Embiricos' scenario is by far the most probable. CTX is confident this was a cargo to ballast tank leak, but we could use confirmation. Also need source for photos which CTX has not yet seen.