On 10 April 1991, the Italian car ferry Moby Prince left Leghorn at around 10 pm in thick fog with 143 passengers and crew onboard. The tanker Agip Abruzzo was anchored two nautical miles off the coast from the port, in the legal waiting area. Half an hour after leaving port, the ferry hit the oil tanker. The two vessels went on fire. The Agip Abruzzo had 80,000 tonnes of light Iranian crude in its tanks. Some 2,000 tonnes were released following the collision. Some of the oil was burnt off, destroying the living quarters and machine room. Explosions in the bunker tank three days after the incident slightly damaged the ship’s structure and led to the release of an undetermined quantity of bunker fuel. The fire lasted seven days in total.
The Agip Abruzzo on fire (collection Dag Bjerke)
A ship-to-ship cargo transfer at anchor was performed from 12 to 17 May, though was suspended several times due to adverse weather conditions and technical difficulties. Oil recovery at sea was organised but made difficult due to the high viscosity of the burnt residues and the large area over which the fuel had spread. Small quantities of oil continued to be released for a fortnight after the initial disaster. Clean-up of a section of around 130 km of shoreline, located mainly north of Leghorn, was undertaken by local companies. The majority of operations came to an end in early June 1991.
The Agip Abruzzo remained at anchor until 22 October 1991 when it was towed away. It was demolished in January 1992.
In total, 142 people were reported missing and only one member of the crew of the Moby Prince survived. The 36 crew members of the oil tanker survived, although some were badly injured.
Name: Agip Abruzzo
Accident area: Leghorn
Cause of spill: collision
Quantity transported: 80,000 tonnes
Type of pollutant: light Iranian crude oil
Quantity spilled: around 2,000 tonnes
Ship type: oil tanker
Owner: S.p.A. Milan
Date built: 1977
Length: 330.70 m
Width: 51.81 m
Labromare, Neri and RTI Castaglia were the three Italian companies which took part in coastline clean-up operations. They each claimed compensation for their respective contribution, including shoreline clean-up, storage and treatment of collected waste, the use of small boats for oil recovery, and work conducted on the Agip Abruzzo to prevent the oil from leaking from the damaged hull. Their claims also included the provision of tugs and other boats used to fight the fire, prevent pollution, pump water from the machine room and evacuate solid and liquid waste. Labromare was awarded £2.2 million in compensation, Neri £1.1 million and RTI Castaglia £3.9 million, all of which was paid out by the shipowner SNAM.
Last update: 03/08/2011