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Precis File
SHIP NAME: American Trader KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 4
source LMIU
type C
volume
material
dead
link

Hull ruptured in way of No.1 tank 07 Feb 1990 while unloading cargo offshore Huntington Beach, California. Cargo discharged at Long Beach. Temporary repairs effected. Proceeded to San Francisco for permanent repairs. Extensive pollution.


source OSCH
type A
volume 9458B
material
dead
link

On February 7, 1990 at 1620, the single-hull tank vessel American Trader grounded on one of its anchors while approaching the Golden West Refining Company's offshore mooring. Two holes were punctured in one of the vessel's cargo tanks, releasing 9458 barrels of heavy crude oil into the water approximately 1.3 miles from Huntington Beach, California. The master of the vessel immediately reported the incident to the USCG Marine Safety Office/Group Los Angeles-Long Beach (MSO/Group LA-LB). The master moved the American Trader into deeper water one mile to the south. The commanding officer of the MSO/Group assumed the role of the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC). The responsible parties assumed full financial responsibility for the spill and sent representatives to the Long Beach area. Oil began to come ashore on February 8 in light concentrations around Newport Pier. By February 9, oil was ashore at Huntington Beach; in some instances, oil in the surf zone here appeared to be in heavier concentrations than observed earlier at Newport Beach. Calm seas and fair weather for most of the response period resulted in a rapid and successful cleanup. All of the beaches were cleaned by March 2. The FOSC concluded all cleanup operations by April 3. The 22,000 barrels of crude remaining in the damaged cargo tank were lightered by personnel from the USCG Pacific Strike Team and the responsible party using the USCG Air-Deliverable Anti-Pollution Transfer System (ADAPTS). By 1200 on February 9, the oil from the damaged tank plus 90,000 barrels from the mid-body tanks had been transferred into barges to decrease the draft of the vessel. Temporary patches were applied to the holes in the hull and the American Trader was moved to an oil transfer facility in Long Beach Harbor to off-load the remaining 470,000 barrels of crude oil. The vessel was moved to San Francisco on February 18 for drydocking and repair.

Alaska North Slope Crude Oil is a medium weight oil with an API gravity of 26.5 and a pour point of 0 degrees F. The release of oil from the damaged hull was rapid. Both of the puncture holes were in the No. 1 starboard wing tank. None of the other cargo tanks were damaged. Card, CPT J.C., and Meehan, LT J.A. 1991. Response to the American Trader Oil Spill. Oil Spill Conference Proceedings 1991. pp. 305-311. NOAA Response Report Rolan, R.G. and Cameron, K.H. 1991. Adaptation of the Incident Command System to Oil Spill Response During the American Trader Spill. Oil Spill Conference Proceedings 1991. pp. 267-272. USCG On-Scene Coordinators Report White, J. and Williams, T. 1991. Saving Endangered Species in Major Oil Spill Cleanup Efforts., Oil Spill Conference Proceedings 1991. pp. 221-223.


source ERC
type D
volume
material light crude
dead
link

Anchor accidently punctured hull during attempt to moor. Fined USD 5,311,625 by California.


source CTX
type C
volume
material
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This was important spill politically coming as it did while OPA90 was being debated. It looked to Congress to be just the kind of spill that would have been avoided if the ship had been double hull. Congressionals staffers told djw1 that it changed a number of votes. Whether a double hull would have helped or hurt (via flooding of the double bottom in shallow water subject to swell) needs real analysis.

Conrary to the OSCH report, several sources say strong winds blews most of the oil ashore, which was probably the easiest place to clean it up.

The American Trader was a lightering ship. She was transferring North Slope crude from the Keystone Canyon to the Golden West terminal for BP. This terminal was a CBM (Conventional Buoy Mooring) which was an obsolete technology even in 1990. Few if any of these type of offshore moorings still exist. Unlike an SBM, the ship has to anchor among the mooring buoys, and cannot weather vane. It was set in water xxx m deep.. The ship's draft was xxx m.

Several sources agree that mooring pilots were on board. A NOAA summary says "The vessel's anchor punctured two holes in the starboard cargo tank due to a combination of ocean swells and inadequate water depth during an attempted mooring at the sea berth," Possible causes include conning error, bad combination of draft and swell, and ????. One lawyer for the Captain claimed pilot told him there was 56 ft of water where in fact there was 51. The case was settled out of court without any admission of guilt. So far CTX has not found any real investigation of the cause. Nothing like the UK or Australian investigations. Need to get the 1991 Oil Spill Conference Proceedings.

We also need the chronology, the loading pattern, the size and location of the damage. USCG Adm Bunch said "three foot diameter hole" in a speech. Keith in 1993 Oil Spill Conference says "with a hull penetration of less than a meter", but not clear where this came from.