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Texaco Caribbean

Texaco Caribbean
Accident date
Accident area
13 km from Dover Strait
Spill area
Cause of spill
Nature of pollutant
Bunker fuel oil
Quantity spilled
600 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Oil tanker
Built date
Kieler Howaldtswerke AG, Kiel
175 m
23.8 m
12.5 m
Texaco Panama Inc.

On 11 January 1971, the Panamanian tanker the Texaco Caribbean was on a ballast voyage from the Netherlands to Trinidad when she was struck by the 12,000-tonne Peruvian freighter the Paracas in thick fog. The latter ignored the shipping lanes of Dover Straits and took the shorter way along the English coast. The Texaco Caribbean exploded, split in two and sank, releasing 600 tonnes of bunker and ballast. 8 sailors lost their lives in the incident and 22 were rescued.
The Paracas was sailing from Peru to Hamburg with a cargo of fishmeal and fishoil. She was also seriously damaged in the incident. The salvage tug the Heros towed her to Hamburg where they arrived on 14 January.
The British coastal authorities placed 3 vertical green lights on site to warn other ships of the presence of the wreck. However, the following day the West German freighter Brandenburg hit the Texaco Caribbean and sank a few minutes later. Lifeboats did not have the time to arrive. Only 11 out of 32 crew members were rescued by local fishing boats. The bodies of 7 crew members were found and 14 remained missing.
A light ship and 5 light buoys were added on site but on 27 February, the Greek vessel the Nikki, sailing from Dunkirk to Alexandria, ignored the warnings and collided with the submerged wrecks. The tanker the Hebris was in the area at the same time. The crew saw the Nikki sinking and sent radio messages. The Hebris came closer as people were seen at sea but when she arrived on site there was nobody left. The Nikki went down with her entire crew.
The 3 wrecks represented a serious hazard for passing ships. A second lightship and about 10 more buoys were added. However within 2 months, British coastal authorities reported 16 ships for having ignored the lightships and buoys. Luckily, there were no further incidents.
The company Risdon Beazley Ulrich Harms Ltd from Southampton was contacted to remove the wrecks of the Texaco Caribbean, the Brandenburg and the Nikki. The operation lasted 18 months. During that time the area was signalled by 2 lightships and 14 lighted buoys.

Sources :

  • HOOKE, Norman, 1997, Maritime Casualties 1963-1996, second edition, LLP Limited, Londres
  • 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
  • Department of Trade, Accidents at Sea Causing Oil Pollution, Review of Contingency Measures, London, 1978
Last update on 02/06/2004
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