While cruising the Caribbean last February, my friend Kevin from nearby Stittsville snapped a nice shot of the 345' Turkish tanker AZRA-S as she heads out from Curacao on a relatively calm sea. The AZRA-S was built in Istanbul in 2007 and while transferring diesel fuel in Basseterre on the island of St. Kitts, she broke free of her moorings due to high winds and rough seas, and ran aground on the seabed just off shore. YIKES!! The last type of ship anyone wants to see run aground nearby is a tanker. It's bad enough to have to view a constant eyesore like the bent and broken remains of a wreck on a beautiful beach like the one my daughter Lauren snapped in Jamaica a few years back, but a greater concern is oil spillage and the ongoing devastating damage it may cause to the marine environment and local economies. Fortunately for the people of St. Kitts, only the stern section of the AZRA-S laid steadfast on the seabed and the tanker was a modern vessel, built with two hulls to help safeguard its cargo. Even if the outer hull of the AZRA-S became breached, the inner one would keep her oil in place. Double hulled construction of tankers has been the requirement since 1993, mandated in the Oil Pollution Act in 1990 as a result of the ongoing environmental damages that were created when the EXXON VALDEZ struck Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef in Alaska in 1989 spilling nearly 750,000 barrels of crude oil. Meanwhile, single hulled tankers were to be phased out by 2010.
With the aid of the St. Croix based tug STORM and being lightened by her sister ship, the AZRA-S was freed to go her merry way after almost three weeks on its seabed berth. Meanwhile, in August 2012, The EXXON VALDEZ was beached at Alang, India and dismantled. Though not a beached eyesore like the snap below, the memories of her environmental destruction in Alaska will remain forever.