Argo Merchant

Photos and text from Wikipedia.
A silvery oil slick can be seen coming from the center holds.
Original images from NOAA

In December 1976, Argo Merchant loaded 7.7 million US gallons (29 million liters)) of no. 6 fuel oil at Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, sailing for Boston under Captain Georgios Papadopoulos. It was later established that the ship carried two unqualified crew as helmsmen, a broken gyrocompass, inadequate charts, and an inaccurate radio direction finder. At six p.m. on December 15, in high winds and ten foot (3 m) seas, the tanker ran aground on Middle Rip Shoal in position 412'N 6927'W about 25 nautical miles (46 km) southeast of Nantucket and more than 24 miles (44 km) off her intended course. The thirty-eight members of the crew were evacuated, but the shallow waters and weather conditions made it impossible to offload the oil or salvage the ship. On December 21, 1976, Argo Merchant broke apart and spilled its entire cargo of fuel oil, enough to heat 18,000 homes for a year. Fortunately, northwesterly winds blew the 60 by 100 nautical mile (111 185 km) oil slick offshore, and coastal fisheries and beaches were spared the worst.


last updated: 2007.03.20
url: http://www.gis.net/~szendeh/targo.merchant.htm