Tags : :
In June 1984 the Greek oil tanker " Alexander The Great " was berthed at a Kharg Island oil terminal in the Persian Gulf. Suddenly she was struck by an Iraqi Exocet missile. Due to her massive damages she had to be demolished which - later that year - took place in a scrap yard at Kaoshiung. This missile attack on her, however, was not her first dramatic event.
During the early morning hours of 16th December 1977 and still by her original name " Venpet ", she was on a ballast voyage from Nova Scotia, Canada to Kharg Island, to load a new oil cargo - again for Nova Scotia - when she collided with another huge oil carrier - none less than her own sister. The 331.000 dwt. " Venoil " was coming in the exact opposite direction - from Kharg Island, carrying a load of 307.000 tons of crude oil, for the same terminal at Nova Scotia.
The collision of the two huge sister tankers which occured 22 miles off the coast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa - near a busy sea lane - was a very dramatic one. Immediately both tankers caught fire and several crew men on board the " Venoil " were trapped by flames and smoke. In order to assist the two crews and to salvage the tankers, rescue workers had to deal with an inferno of flames, thick black smoke - which could be seen from miles around - and a large burning oil slick on the sea. Vessels responding to the emergency were so plentiful that most of them had to be turned away in fear of further collisions in the disaster area.
The trapped men on " Venoil " were picked up by a helicopter pilot. The rest of her crew - apart from two people who lost their lives - managed to launch a life boat. Having sailed it through the slicks of burning oil on the sea, they were safely picked up by a bulk carrier " Jedforest ". The crew of " Venpet " was rescued by the " Clan Menzies ".
When the flames of the tankers extinguished they were both towed into Algoa Bay. " Venoil " had her remaining crude oil cargo transferred to another tanker, " Litiopa " - later named " Berge Bragd " - http://www.shipspotting.com/modules/myalbu...o.php?lid=43129 which subsequently sailed it to Nova Scotia. Having stayed a while in Algoa Bay and Cape Town they both left for ship yards at Sasebo and Nagasaki in Japan for extensive repairs.
As to the reason for this spectacular clash, speculations were that the two sister tankers had deliberately narrowed in - on this misty morning - to allow the two crews to exchange greetings during their very long voyages. For that reason and in regard of the very huge insurance costs, the accident was, at the time, by some, called " the World`s most expensive hand shake ".
Till I See You Again - Adios!