The Ievoli Sun Chemical Tanker Incident

Around 12 years ago, the capsizing of a chemical tanker ship – Ievoli Sun – led to huge causes of concern on account of huge potentiality of maritime ecosystem pollution.

The Ievoli Sun chemical tanker accident was an unprecedented incident, an accident without any preliminaries but which left yet another distasteful memory in a long-winding list of maritime mishaps.

Chemical Tanker Ship Incident Details

The chemical tanker ship accident occurred in the English Channel, quite close to the Channel Island of Alderney, in the early morning of 30th October 2000.

levovi sun1

At the time of its accident and eventual sinking, the vessel was on-route from the British port of Fawley to the Barcelonan port and was equipped with important but hazardous and noxious substances like vinyl benzene (styrene), isopropanol alcoholic solvent and butanone (methyl ethyl ketone).

These chemicals are regarded to be extremely dangerous on account of their in-solvability in water, which further compounded the threat to the maritime ecology after the tanker ship’s unexpected mishap.

Some basic facts about the tanker ship

  • The tanker ship was registered with an Italian port of registry and was engaged by the Italian shipping corporation Domenico Ievoli
  • The chemical tanker ship measured over 115 meters lengthwise with a beam over 17 meters and a draft of over six meters
  • The tanker ship offered operational speed touching up to 14 knots
  • At the time of her accident, the Ievoli Sun was loaded with 6000 tonnes of the above specified chemicals in the ratio of 4:1:1 (styrene: isopropanol: butanone)

The accident was caused not because of negligence on the part of the crew but because of the prevalent harsh weather conditions. The prow (bow) of the tanker ship bore the brunt of the harsh weather causing sea water to flood into the vessel and pressurize its stability on the water. Fortunately, the crew’s alertness and the resultant distress call to the Marine Rescue Co-ordination Center (MRCC) helped in the timely evacuation of the crew by a French naval copter.

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Concerns however were mounted extremely on the threats that the chemicals especially vinyl benzene posed to the ecology. However immediate response teams engaged by the French maritime officials to check out the spillage situation reported that while a limited capacity of vinyl benzene had indeed spilled onto the water, it had vaporized almost immediately, thus negating any causes for potential ecological hazards. As regards the remainder of the quantity of vinyl benzene, they were reported to be in a comparatively safer position and were expected to solidify of their own accord. These were later recovered and disposed of in the most appropriate manner by authorities.

Repercussions of the Ievoli Sun Chemical Tanker Ship Accident

The vessel was monitored by Domenico Ievoli officials before the vessel embarked for this particular marine shipping engagement. Though the company did indeed carry out a thorough monitoring, several loopholes emerged as various core equipment and facilities remained unchecked by the vessel’s monitors. This caused immense problems as issues about monitoring thoroughness rose, thus clouding the already precarious marine shipping sector.

levovi sun 3

The Ievoli Sun was a crucial reminder that marine accidents could occur without any personnel negligence but caution and prevention by way of ensuring vessel’s work-ability and fully efficient functionality before every operation is essential. These two measures would effectually eliminate any possible threats of such unprecedented accidents, thereby bettering the international shipping industry operational processes.

References: bbc, sciencedirect, beamer-france


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One Comment

  1. Dear Mohit,

    On that particular day I was on a vessel half the size of the Ievoli Sun. (maiden trip in ballast from Leixous-Portugal).A small chemical tanker as well.
    To be more precisely we have seen the Ievoli Sun while we were finished with a evaluation of a fire drill on the bridge.
    We were all more than convinced that the speed she was keeping was perfect to destroy the vessel.
    I consider tankers like the size of the Ievoli Sun one of the most safe /seaworthy ships built in it’s kind.But if you don’t reduce your speed relative to the weather circumstances than you can destroy your vessel very easy.
    As I said we came from the south and were rolling like hell with massive waves rolling over our stern or “climbing” on board on the midships.
    Nor to judge neither questioning anyone personally……..a lot comes to good seafaring.
    The manifold has shifted one (1) meter over a length of 20 mts on my sister vessel in the German Bight in the night time…..trying to keep up with the commercial pressure……in the end we had to repair the manifold for several weeks….because some idiot in the commercial department pushes the Master but has no clue what a wave is except in his bath tub. A n experienced Master knows how to deal with that:Ship first at all times!

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