FEBRUARY 1977 – HAWAIIAN PATRIOT MASSIVE OIL SPILL OFF THE COAST OF HAWAII

Hawaiian Patriot was a 846 ft long tanker powered by a single 23,000 hp diesel engine. The ship was built in 1965 by Mitsui Bussan as Borgila for Fred. Olsen & Co. In 1973, she was sold to Marine Transport Lines and renamed Oswego Patriot, and in 1975 Indo-Pacific Carriers purchased her and gave her the name Hawaiian Patriot.
On 23th February 1977, Hawaiian Patriot fully loaded with 99,000 tonnes of light Indonesian crude oil, en route from Indonesia to Honolulu, reported a crack in her hull plating during a storm which resulted in a leak of oil from the cargo holds approximately 360 miles west of Hawaii. The US Coast Guard said the hole in the vessel may have been caused by the loss of an entire hull plate.
The following day as 18,000 tonnes of oil had leaked into the sea, the tanker suffered a huge explosion and the crew abandoned the ship, which burnt fiercely for several hours before sinking. The merchant ship Philippine Bataan rescued 38 of the men who leaped into five?foot seas from the flaming vessel. One crewman died. Those aboard the rescue vessel were reported to have suffered only minor injuries.
On February 25, The New York Times reported "a C?130 reconnaisance plane was over the ship when caught fire. The pilot said smoke was seen amidships a few minutes before the explosion, and the crew could be seen abandoning ship. Seconds later, the pilot reported, there was a terrific explosion and a huge cloud of black smoke."
The resultant oil slick, which was estimated to contain about 50,000 tonnes of oil was carried westward away from Hawaii by ocean currents and did not result in pollution problems on land. The slick was kept under surveillance. No response to the oil spill took place as the oil dissipated naturally.
(Source: ITOPF/Wikipedia/New York Times – Image The Borglia tanker later renamed Hawaiian Patriot)

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