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Accident date
Accident area
Newcastle, East coast of Australia
Spill area
Cause of spill
Product transported
Bunker fuel
Quantity transported
2300 tonnes
Nature of pollutant
Bunker fuel
Quantity spilled
500 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Bulk carrier
Built date
Austin & Pickersgill Ltd, Sunderland
217.32 m
32.2 m
AS Ludwig Mowinckels Rederi

On 26th May 1974, the Norwegian bulk carrier Sygna was bound for Newcastle harbour (Australia) to load a cargo of coal for Europe. A heavy storm (165 km/h winds, 17 m high waves) drove the vessel aground on Stockton Beach. The 30 crew members were rescued by a Royal Australian Air Force helicopter, as the stern of the vessel was splitting open and released 700 tonnes of bunker fuel.

The fuel oil was dispersed naturally by the strong wave action and no shoreline clean-up was initially necessary. Considered too large to be salvaged, the wreck was initially declared a total loss and was left on site.

On 4th September, a Japanese salvage team repaired the holes in the hull and refloated the vessel. However the stern grounded once again 80 metres from the beach where it had initially grounded. It became and currently remains a popular tourist attraction despite its deteriorated condition. The bow, also refloated by the salvage team, was eventually towed to Taiwan to be scrapped.

Shoreline clean-up

During these operations, the vessel continued to release fuel oil, which polluted around 8 km of beaches. Clean-up operations were conducted using bulldozers.


- HOOKE, Norman, 1997, Maritime Casualties 1963-1996, second edition, LLP Limited, London
- IFP, Banques de données sur les accidents de navire ayant provoqué un déversement de pétrole en mer supérieur à 500 tonnes, 1970-1974, Réf. 26 704, Janvier 1979
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Last update on 22/11/2006

External links

AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority), incident report.

Marine Environment Protection Major Oil Spills in Australia.

Royal Australian Air Force Australia’s biggest shipwreck.

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