Skip to content

Khark 5; 400 miles north of Las Palmas, Canary Islands

400 miles north of Las Palmas, Canary Islands | 1989-Dec-19

Initial Notification: On December 19, 1989, the Iranian tanker Khark 5 bound for refineries in Northern Europe exploded and caught fire approximately 400 miles north of the Canary Islands. An estimated 452,400 barrels (19 million gallons) of the 1,714,300 barrels (72 million gallons) on board spilled into the sea. The 35 crew members were rescued by the passing Soviet vessel Sarny. Ocean currents carried the abandoned vessel south towards the Canary Islands. A Moroccan Government Response Task Force consisting of members from the Moroccan Royal Navy, Interior Ministry, Ministry of Fisheries, and the Civil Defense Force responded to the incident. According to a joint Spain/Morocco contingency plan, the Spanish government was prepared to provide aid if necessary. The Moroccan government sent a formal request to the U.S. Coast Guard for technical assistance in evaluating the situation. An Atlantic Strike Team (AST) representative was sent to the scene on January 4, 1990. The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) provided cleanup equipment and an on-scene advisor. Smit Tak, a Dutch salvage company, repaired a 60 foot by 90 foot hole in the vessel's port side. Early efforts to tow the damaged vessel away from the shore were hampered by 8-foot waves and high winds. On January 1, a tug secured a line to the Khark 5 and began towing the vessel towards the Madeira Islands off Portugal as Morocco and Spain refused to allow the vessel close to their shores. Fourteen aircraft and seven boats were used to spray detergents on the slick. Keyword: International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF), Atlantic Strike Team (AST), manual removal, fire, explosion, evaporation, side looking airborne radar (SLAR), Infrared (IR), Finasol OSR-2..

Incident Details
Products of concern:Iranian Heavy crude oil
Total amount at risk of spill: 19,000,000 gallons
Latitude (approximate): 34° 32.00′ North
Longitude (approximate): 19° 34.00′ West
On-Water Recovery: Unknown/Not applicable
Shoreline Cleanup: Unknown/Not applicable
Dispersants: Applied
In-Situ Burn: Unknown/Not applicable
Bioremediation: Unknown/Not applicable