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The wreck

The seabed on which the wreck lies, some 30 nautical miles south of Penmarc'h and 50 nautical miles west of Belle-Ile, is a vast expanse of muddy sand.

At this site, currents are moderate and do not exceed 0.8 knots. The bow section lies at a depth of 114 metres and the stern at a depth of 128 metres. In January, the sea temperature, a determining factor in the state of the oil, at the bottom was measured at 9 °C. It does not exceed 12°C in the summer.
Upon inspection, the bow lay upside down and straight on the sea floor. Its external general condition appeared to be fairly good. The buckling it suffered seemed superficial, except in the fractured zone at the rear of the section. The stern lay on its keel. The site was strewn with metal debris and equipment torn off the tanker when it broke up. The hull and deck's external structure was on the whole intact, except in the ruptured zone of the hull, at the front of the section. The afterdeck looked in relatively good condition, rising nearly 30 metres above the sea floor.
An initial mission to locate the various parts of the wreck was carried out by the French Navy mine hunter the Pégase, only a short time after the sinking. The exact position of the two wrecks was thus specified. A SPF (Self-Propelled Fish = remote-operated robot equipped with a camera) captured the first images of the bow. The visibility conditions as well as the size of the wreck compared with the field of view of the robot made the interpretation of the images tricky. The supply ship the Abeille-Supporter deployed its exploration ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) Abyssub around the rear section of the wreck on the evening of 31 December. A preliminary investigation took place on 1 and 2 January 2000, formally identifying the wreck and showing its position on the sea bottom. A detailed investigation was then carried out by the research vessel Marianos, chartered by TotalFinaElf. This provided accurate information for defining a method to neutralise the oil remaining in the wreck.

Last update on 10/12/2000
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