Daily Event for December 31

December 31, 1978: Off the north west coast of Spain the Greek tanker Andros Patria caught fire. The explosion occurred midships and the captain, fearing that the entire ship would explode, ordered the lifeboats to be launched. Almost the entire crew along with the captain abandoned the burning tanker. Only the chief engineer and one crewman stayed aboard.

The fire did not spread and the chief managed to restart the engines, set the autohelm to avoid the coast thus saving the ship and a greater environmental disaster. The tanker was carrying over 200,000 tons of Iranian crude oil and ultimately released over 14,000,000 gallons into the Bay of Biscay.

The ship was later taken in tow and was salvaged. The lifeboat carrying the captain and the thirty three crewmen who abandoned the ship capsized in the heavy seas and all were drowned.

© 2005 Michael W. Pocock