ARGO Merchant Oil Spill: A Preliminary Scientific Report   [open pdf - 17MB]

"The tanker 'Argo Merchant' carrying 7,700,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil went aground on Fishing Rip, 29 nautical miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, at 0600 EST [Eastern Standard Time] on December 15, 1976. Despite attempts to refloat the tanker, it began to leak oil and, at 0835 on December 21, broke in half after a battering by gale force winds. By the next day, after the ship had broken again, most of the oil it carried was drifting at the mercy of winds and currents. The bow section, which still had some buoyancy and was thought to contain some remaining cargo, started drifting away from the other two pieces of wreckage. Despite attempts by the U.S. Coast Guard to remove the buoyancy by holing the floatation compartments on December 31, the bow section drifted southeast into deeper water under the influence of the severe currents in the area. On February 8, 1977, the bow section was relocated 1 mile to the southeast and was found to be empty of oil. What started as another tanker going aground ended up as one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history."

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