The Amoco Cadiz

The Amoco Cadiz earned its name from the specific locale where it was built in Cadiz, Spain. There, Astilleros Espanoles constructed a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) with a length of 1,096 feet, a beam of 167.5 feet and a draft of 65 feet. It possessed a deadweight tonnage of 233,690 tonnage and a gross registered tonnage of 109,700 tons.

The Cadiz was launched on November 24, 1973. and within a year, was completed and put into service with a capacity of 1.6 million tons of oil. Technically owned by the Amoco Transport Co., a subsidiary of the parent company, the Cadiz held a crew of 44 people and could reach a maximum speed of 15 knots.

During its short time as an oil tanker, the Cadiz operated in the traditional capacity as a VLCC and was chartered by other companies other than Amoco. The steering had been inspected on three different occasions, with no problems found by those inspectors.

That latter point became very important during a charter delivery for Shell International Petroleum in March 1978. That’s when the Cadiz became part of an infamous list of vessels that played a devastating role in an environmental catastrophe.

The Cadiz had been traveling with a crew of 39 men from the Middle East with a full cargo of oil and an eventual destination of the Netherlands. A scheduled stop was set for Lyme Bay in the United Kingdom, but that stop never took place.

On the morning of March 16, 1978, rough weather in the English Channel resulted in massive waves rendered the steering useless. Attempts at towing the vessel only ended up grounding it three miles off the coast of France. By the next morning, it split in two and created a massive oil spill before eventually sinking.