- Oceanic Grandeur
- Accident date
- Accident area
- Torres Strait, Western Australia
- Spill area
- Cause of spill
- Product transported
- Sumatran crude oil
- Quantity transported
- 55, 000 tonnes
- Quantity spilled
- 1, 100 tonnes
- Ship / structure type
On the 3rd March 1970, the Oceanic Grandeur oil tanker was en-route from Dumai in Indonesia to Brisbane in Australia carrying 55,000 tonnes of Sumatran crude oil.
In the Torres Strait it struck an uncharted rock. The accident damaged eight of its fifteen oil tanks which started to leak.
The tanker reduced its speed and anchored five nautical miles away.
Cargo transfer operations from the Oceanic Grandeur to the Leslie J. Thompson and the Oceanic Liberty began on the 4th March and continued for 18 days. A second oil spill occurred during these operations.
Between the initial spill at the tanker's grounding and the lightering operations an estimated 1,100 tonnes of crude oil was spilt at sea.
Response at sea
From the 4th March, small vessels started applying dispersants on the slicks at sea away from the shoreline. The products appeared to be efficient on the slicks that had just been spilt but were inefficient on the slicks that had weathered for over 6 hours.
The strong current (6 knots) in the area prevented the deployment of booms.
The available waste collection and storage equipment was unsuitable which prevented the use of sorbents.
Once the tanker had been lightered, temporary repairs were completed on the hull to enable the tanker to sail to Singapore.
The oil slicks reached the north-west shores of Goods Island. The environmental priorities were established by the Australian government.
Protection priority was given to the pearl culture industry, fisheries and the Great Barrier Reef.
Queensland claimed $137,000 AUD in compensation from the owners of the vessel.
No charges were brought against the captain of the Oceanic Grandeur. His reaction when the tanker struck the submerged reef was considered legitimate. The incident highlighted the need for stricter regulation of navigational standards in Australian waters.