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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Kirki KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 9
source LMIU
type D
volume
material
dead
link

Had fire and explosions in rough seas 16 miles off Cervantes, in 30 41 S 114 40 E Jul 21 1991, causing oil spill Abandoned by crew Bow section broke off Towed further out to sea, leakage sealed Cargo transferred Towed to off Singapore. Towed into Huangpu prev Oct 28, to be broken up.


source OSIR
type D
volume 5200000G
material
dead
link

Puts location at 30.28S, 113.53E.


source OSCH
type A
volume 135000B
material light Murban Crude
dead
link

On July 21, 1991, the Greek tanker Kirki caught fire 20 miles off the coast of Western Australia, near Cervantes. The vessel was en-route from the Arabian Gulf to Kwinana, Australia. It was owned by Mayamar Marine Enterprises of Piraeus, Greece. The Kirki's bow broke off in heavy seas, rupturing two of the forward tanks. Approximately 135,000 barrels of light Murban crude were spilled, most of it on the first day. Small amounts of oil leaked during the subsequent towing of the Kirki. The salvage vessel Lady Kathleen was in the area of the incident and responded quickly to the Kirki's distress call. The Lady Kathleen towed the vessel to the west away from the shore, preventing further casualties.

Light Murban crude oil has an API gravity of 40.5, and a pour point of -24 degrees F. The spill from the broken bow created a 60 mile long, 1 to 10 mile wide slick just 4 miles off the coast of Western Australia. The fire on the Kirki was extinguished quickly, so little oil burned. By July 24, most of the spilled oil had evaporated or dissipated in heavy seas. The small amount of oil that leaked during the tow dissipated within a few miles of the vessel's track. On July 23, some beaches around Jurien Bay were polluted by oil in the form of small emulsified pellets.

The ruptured tanks on the Kirki continued to leak small amounts of oil as the vessel was towed an additional 55 miles west from the shoreline. Recovery and cleanup equipment were flown to the area, but application of dispersants was the primary response.

Plans were made to transfer the oil remaining on the stern section of the Kirki to another vessel. The Kirki was towed to a point 70 miles northwest of the Australian coast by the salvage ship Lady Elizabeth. Between August 14 to August 19, 484,000 barrels of light Murban crude, fuel oil, and waste oil, were transferred to the Liberian tanker Flying Clipper. Due to the missing bow, the Kirki could not be anchored, so the transfer operations were performed while all three vessels involved were underway. By August 22, United Salvage had the Kirki undertow en-route to Singapore for salvage or scrapping.


source Lipscombe
type D
volume 1100T
material C
dead
link

Lipscombe is Manager, Environmental Protection Group, Australian Maritime Safety Agency. In a paper to the Petroleum Association of Japan in March 2001, he says In July 1991, the tanker Kirki losts its bow section some 22 miles off the Western Australian coast near the townships of Cervantes and Jurien Bay. The loss of the bow and further damage to the ship in heavy weather during the tow to the offloading location resulted in the total loss of some 17,700 tonnes of light crude oil. Of the total loss, 7,900 tonnes of cargo was lost initially and the other 9,800 tonnes during the tow north to a position off Dampier where the remaining 64,500 tonnes of cargo was trasnferred in an at sea ship-to-ship operation with the tanker Flying Clipper.


source FSI 3/5 Annex 2
type A
volume 20000T
material
dead 0
link

Caught fire 16 miles west of Cervantes in heavy weather and bow broke off. Cause of the casualty was the extremely bad weather conditions. Loss of the bow section of the ship and stress of the ship's hull.

Under Marpol,the flag state is required to make a report to IMO of any casualty resulting in a major deleterious upon the marine environment. The quote above is the principal findings of the Greek report. This is representative of the quality of many flag state reports, especially Greece and Italy. The FSI summary references FSI 2/61 No 70.

source AMSA
type L
volume 17280T
material
dead
link http://www.amsa.gov.au/Marine_Environment_Protection/Major_Oil_Spills_in_Australia/Kirki/index.asp


source ATSB
type L
volume
material
dead
link http://www.atsb.gov.au/marine/incident/incident_detail.cfm?ID=33


source UNK
type L
volume
material
dead
link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcU4t6zRAKg

This is a little skit on the Kirki spill. Unfortunately, it may be closer to the truth than the comedians realized.


source CTX
type D
volume
material
dead
link

The LMIU and OSCH texts are totally misleading with respect to cause. So for different reasons is the flag state report. See the Australian reports for the real cause. There is also a good description of this spill in Brodie D, "The Kirki Incident" 1993 Oil Spill Conference, page 201, altho like most such descriptions it focuses on what happened after the spill.

The forepeak ballast tank was horribly corroded. The hull structure failed on deck at the bulkhead between the forepeak tank and the forwardmost cargo tanks. The combination of hydrocarbon vapor escaping from the cargo tanks and the loose steel banging around started a fire, which was then put out by the sea. This process was repeated several times until the whole Forepeak tank just fell off.

Thanks to heroic efforts on the part of the salvors, the ship survived. The Kirki was fully approved by her Classification Society, Germanischer Lloyd. Her most recent Class survey was five months earlier. All her paperwork was in order. She was nicely painted. Yet when the Australians inspected this ship, they found massive corrosion not only in what was left of the forepeak, but in the aft segregated ballast tanks as well. They found rust camouflaged with canvas. And they found the ship's safety gear, and some of machinery including the boiler safety valves in horrible condition.

The Brodie paper has some nice pictures showing the very advanced stage of corrosion, not only at the bulkhead at the aft end of the Forepeak tank, but also Figure 7 showing horrible corrosion in 7 wing ballast tanks. There is no evidence of any coating in this picture nor anodes. But Figure 9 shows the FP tank was coated.

The Australians were at a loss to explain how the ship's Classification Society could have missed all this. Germanischer Lloyd for its part blamed ``poor cooperation'' on the part of the owner, Thenamaris. In fact, owner and Class had developed the normal close working relationship.

The 97,000 ton ship was built in 1969. She had three class changes, originally LR, went to ABS in 79, and to Germanischer Lloyd in 1986.

Cause is clearly nil ballast tank maintenance, and lousy Class surveying. This ship may have switched to segregated ballast, but the failure was in one of the original segregated ballast tanks. The fires forward had nil effect on this spill.

It is quite common for structural failures on loaded ships to generate fires. The pieces of steel grinding against each other in the presence of petroleum vapor makes a fire quite likely. The fire then becomes the "cause" of the spill.

The unusual thing about this structural failure, then fire, is the ship survived and we have pictures which clearly show the horrible condition of the steel. But for some reason even the environmental sources call this spill a fire.