NOVEMBER 1988: ODYSSEY TANKER SPLITS IN TWO OFF NOVA SCOTIA

August 11, 2019

Odyssey, previously named Oriental Phoenix, was a 65,000-ton tanker built in 1971 and owned by Polem Bros. On November 5, 1988, the tanker departed Sullom Voe Terminal in the Shetland Islands, fully loaded with North Sea Brent Crude oil which was being transported to the Come By Chance Refinery, Newfoundland and Labrador. On November 10, a major North Atlantic storm arose as the Odyssey was about 1000 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland. The ship sent a distress signal and kept heading to shore. An explosion occurred on board, causing the ship to break into two and began sinking 700 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. As the ship sank, a fire broke out on its stern section, causing the oil on board to catch fire. 132,157 tons of crude oil were released into the sea.
The Soviet weather ship, the Passat, traveled 26 miles to the scene, but was unable to get closer than about a mile because of the flames.
The Canadian Forces plane that flew over the area later reported the fire had died out.
All 27 crew members, 15 Greeks and 12 Hondurans, died during the incident. Because of hazardous weather conditions, the Canadian Coast Guard could not immediately reach the spill and much of the oil burned up before the coast guard reached the ship. A limited amount of oil reached the shore. Most of the oil burnt after the explosion, currents and rough seas dissipated the spill across the Atlantic. (Image: Odyssey tanker)