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Sea Valiant

Name
Sea Valiant
Accident date
13/03/1979
Location
France
Accident area
Bay of Douarnenez, Brittany
Spill area
Inshore
Cause of spill
Structural damage
Nature of pollutant
Heavy fuel oil (n°6)
Quantity spilled
20 to 30 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Oil tanker
Flag
Liberian

On 13 March 1979, during a storm north of Azores, the captain of the Sea Valiant noticed a hole in the tanker’s foremost starboard ballast tank. On 17 March, the tanker was passing the Pointe du Raz in Brittany, France, after having travelled at low speed for 3 days. After requesting authorisation from the French Navy to enter French territorial waters, it moored in the Bay of Douarnenez.

Following inspection of the ship, it was decided that lightering operations would be conducted. These operations took place during the second half of March, with adverse weather conditions complicating manoeuvres. Lightering operations were completed on 1st April.
One of the tugs involved in operations went to remove the fenders deployed to let the lightering tanker moor alongside the ship, when it accidentally pierced a hole in one of the tanker’s bunker tanks. Some 20 to 30 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (n°6) leaked out into the Bay of Douarnenez.
Due to the action of prevailing winds, the oil first reached the coast at a single location, Pentrez Beach. Thereafter, with the combined effect of the tides and a change in wind direction, the pollution extended to areas located southwards. Mechanical and manual clean-up operations began on 2 April on the Finistère coastline and were completed 4 days later.

Sources:

- Cedre, 1979, Accident du Sea Valiant - Pollution en Baie de Douarnenez
- MEDDMM, 2008, Répertoire d'archives détaillé : activités de la direction de l'eau, 1967-1993

Last update: 29/09/2009