MAY 1991: ABT SUMMER TANKER IN FLAMES

June 30, 2018

The ABT Summer tanker was launched in Ulsan, South Korea in 1974. In May 1991 the vessel fully laden with a cargo of 260,000 tonnes of Iranian heavy crude oil was en route from the Kharg Island terminal in Iran to Rotterdam. Sailing at about 900 miles off the coast of Angola an unexplained detonation rocked the ship, causing it to go up in flames during the forenoon of 28th May 1991. In the afternoon, up to seven vessels arrived onsite to rescue the crew. 27 people were rescued, however one person was killed and 4 went missing. On 29 May, the flames were still raging onboard the ABT Summer and an oil slick was beginning to form around the ship (32 km long by 7 km wide). Two tugs, the Red Kestrel and the Red Robin, as well as a plane attempted to fight the fire onboard the ship. The tanker burnt for 3 days before sinking on 1st June. It is not clear how much of the oil sank or burned. However, as the incident occurred very far off-shore, most of the oil was expected to be broken up by high seas and naturally vaporize. (ABT Summer tanker in flames in the Atlantic Ocean)