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Katina P

Katina P
Accident date
Accident area
Maputo Bay
Spill area
Cause of spill
Weather conditions
Quantity transported
66, 700 tonnes
Nature of pollutant
crude oil
Quantity spilled
66, 700 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Oil tanker
Built date
238 m
37 m

The incident

On 16 April 1992, the oil tanker Katina P was travelling from Venezuela to the Persian Gulf with 66,700 tonnes of crude oil onboard when it was caught in gigantic waves off Mozambique. Two tanks were burst open, releasing 13,000 tonnes of crude oil.  

The following day, the crew beached the ship on a sand bank in Maputo Bay (Mozambique), 6 miles from the coast, to prevent it from sinking. A further 3,500 tonnes were spilt into the Indian Ocean.

On 26 April, Katina P was refloated and towed to the Mozambique Channel, where its cargo was to be removed. A hundred miles off the coast of Mozambique, the vessel broke and sank, releasing all the oil remaining onboard.

Spill response

Following a request for assistance from the Mozambique Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a US Coast Guard response team arrived on site on 21 April. The first overflights of the wreck were conducted the following day and a response strategy was established based on the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan. The US experts (USCG, NOAA and EPA) helped the Mozambique Government to organise clean-up of the shoreline, polluted by some 500 tonnes of oil.

 Floating booms were deployed to protected sensitive sites and several thousand individuals, local authority staff and volunteers manually cleaned the beaches.


The spill had major socio-economic consequences for Mozambique. The polluted environment was extremely sensitive (bays, mangroves, estuaries, islands and beaches). The area was home to a major shrimp population and other seafood resources. During the first few weeks following the spill, oil slicks threatened the shores of Maputo Bay, which were heavily exploited by local populations for food and trade.

 On 22 April, the Ministry of Health and Secretary of State for Fisheries announced a fishing ban in Maputo Bay, as well as a ban on bathing and other beach activities, due to risks for human health. NOAA provided advice on seafood analysis methods.
On 27 April, in the areas unaffected by the pollution (centre and south of bay), the fishing ban was lifted. Shellfish in areas affected by the pollution still showed high levels, meaning that they were unfit for human consumption.


Mozambique claimed a large sum of compensation from the shipowner, for spill response and the consequences of the pollution. Of the $10.7 million claimed by Mozambique in compensation. $4.5 million was awarded. The lack of expertise and contingency plans and the fact that Mozambique had not signed the International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions enabling compensation in the event of a spill justified this low level of compensation.

The incident enquiry revealed certain grey areas such as the location chosen to beach the vessel, the route taken during towing and the fact that the cargo was not removed before towing. The owner was suspected of attempting to cover up traces of unlawful activity.


- Mozambique News Agency AIN Repots, No.120, 22nd October 1997 Compensation for Katina-P oil spill

- Biogeochemical and Socio-economic Consequences of Katina-P Oil Spill Disaster in Maputo Bay, and its Lessons.

- Alain R. Bertrand Transport Maritime et pollution accidentelle par le pétrole – Faits et chiffres (1951-1999), p. 70/71 et p. 95.

- N. Hooke Maritimes Casualties 1963-1996, p. 326

Last update on 27/07/2012

External links

NOAA database (IncidentNews)

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