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.