On 13 November 2002, near the Spanish Coast, the tanker Prestige began listing in bad weather and leaking oil. Eventually the ship broke in 2 pieces and sank to the seabed, into a water depth of 3000 meters.
The ship was carrying 76,972 tonnes of IFO 650 heavy fuel oil, of which an estimated 63.000 tonnes was spilled. The incident caused one of the largest environmental disasters in Europe of the last decades.
A total of 12 oil spill recovery vessels from across Europe contributed in recovering the oil. Most of the vessels were equipped with a boom and skimmer system, which meant they had to contain the oil first. It appeared that on the open sea in severe weather, containing the oil was almost possible. Three vessels however were equipped with Koseq sweeping arms and were able recover a significant amount of oil: from the total amount of oil recovered by oil spill response vessels, over 82% was done by the sweeping arm equipped vessels.
A report about the oil spill and the clean-up results can be found in the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) report “Action plan for oil pollution preparedness and response” which can be found here: http://www.emsa.europa.eu/technical-ppr/download/420/486/23.html
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