On 23 July 1995, the oil tanker the Sea Prince was travelling from
Saudi Arabia partially loaded with 85,000 tonnes of Arabian crude
when it grounded as it attempting to move away from the port of
Yosu to a safety bay to shelter from the coming typhoon. A fire
broke out in the engine room. The incident caused a spill of around
5,000 tonnes of oil.
The spill affected the shoreline of the Korean islands, the southern and eastern Korean peninsula and certain Japanese islands. In all, 73 km of coastline were affected by the pollution, Sorido Island being the worst hit.
On the 24th, the fire was put out and almost all of the oil remaining in the tanks was transferred into barges. When the weather conditions improved, a boom was deployed around the vessel and recovery operations were able to begin on the 25th. As many as 500 vessels, including many fishing boats, were mobilised to respond to the pollution, but recovery proved difficult due to the extensive spreading of the pollutant. In addition to recovery, dispersants were spread by aircraft. Response operations at sea lasted 19 days.
Once the lightering and recovery operations were finished, the Sea Prince was successfully refloated and towed outside of Korean waters, but sank during towing.
On land, mechanical means were deployed in the most polluted areas to remove large accumulations of oil (skimming and pumping). Elsewhere, the oil was recovered manually. By the end of October, clean-up was complete, except near where the vessel grounded, where response operations continued until July 1996. The buried oil detected was removed in October 1996.
ITOPF called upon an intervention team from Cedre, on behalf of the UK P&I Club and the IOPC Funds, to participate in assessing the extent of the pollution and damages. The accident area is home to intensive aquaculture and fishing activities, which were affected to varying extents by the pollution. Two experts from Cedre were sent on site, including a specialist in damages to aquaculture. The two agents conducted, in collaboration with the Koreans, an inventory of the many aquaculture installations affected by the spill. Samples were taken for organoleptic testing and chemical analysis, and tests were carried out in the United Kingdom.
This incident constitutes one of the major spills involving the IOPC Funds. Compensation by the IOPC Funds for this spill totalled 48 million US Dollars.
Name: Sea Prince
Date: 23 July 1995
Location: Republic of Korea
Accident area: Yosu
Cause of spill: grounding
Product transported: Saudi Arabian crude oil
Quantity transported: 85,000 tonnes
Quantity spilled: 5,000 tonnes
Ship type: oil tanker
Last update: 11 December 2007