On the evening of 23 October 1970, the tanker the Pacific Glory was sailing from Nigeria to Rotterdam with a load of 70,000 tonnes of Nigerian crude oil when the steam tanker the Allegro, loaded with 100,000 tonnes of Libyan crude oil, collided with her. An explosion occurred on the Pacific Glory generating a fire. Oil began to leak from the starboard side of the vessel. 13 of the 42 crew members were killed in the incident.
The following day the Pacific Glory grounded 8 km from the shore. The Allegro managed to continue her route to Fawley (near Southampton).
It took the Portsmouth City Fire Brigade 40 hours to stop the fire. Meanwhile tugs were spraying dispersant’s on the oil slicks. Response operations were facilitated by the meteorological conditions. Some of the oil was naturally dispersed in heavy seas. Luckily, none of the 6,000 tonnes of spilled oil reached the tourist beaches of the Isle of Wight. Only a few beaches from Sussex were slightly polluted.
On 29 October, the Shell steam tanker the Halia began the lightering of the Pacific Glory and pumped some of the remaining oil out of her tanks. This operation took quite a long time as it was interrupted because of the weather. The vessel was eventually re-floated on 7 November. She was then towed to Lymes Bay, England, where water was pumped from her tanks. She was then towed to Rotterdam, where she arrived on 17 November. The Pacific Glory was declared a total loss. Then, after one year left in the harbour, she was towed to Hong Kong for repair. In November 1971-2 she was rebuilt after collision, fire & explosion, and then changed ownership and was renamed the Oriental Confidence.
Thanks to the rapidity of the response operations, the incident did not cause too much damage on the shoreline and very few oiled birds were found. Compensation for response costs and economic impact, paid by the TOVALOP fund, amounted to £330,000.
On the 29th December 1981 she was broken up by Sie Yung Steel Wire Co., Ltd., of Kaohsiung in Chinese Taipei for $122 per LDT.
Arthur Robinson has always had a passion for boats, and planes making models from a young age. He recalls;
In 1969 I moved from the inshore lifeboat to Bembridge all weather Lifeboat and became engineer on the “Jesse Lumb”- a Watson class life boat. We, the crew, were close knit and involved in many major accidents, including taking crew from the deck of the burning tanker “The Pacific Glory”. We were also awarded commendations and invited to Buckingham Palace.
Dave Kennett also recalls;
I did the Round Great Britain Powerboat Race in 1969 with Peter Thorneycroft, chairman of the Bembridge Lifeboat. I was the diver on board of our team and we did have a terrible time coming down the North Sea – it was a force 8. We were 16th out of I don’t know how many….at this time I had just started to be on the lifeboat and was 2nd coxwain of the Yarmouth lifeboat.
I took over the boat in 1971 (as first coxwain) – it was just after the Pacific Glory (wrecked oil tanker off of the south of the Island). We were out there all night transferring firemen and standing by. It was there for a couple of days and at 2 o clock in the morning they decided to tow her to a sandbank off of Sandown. There was fire all over the sea. It was at that time when Howard Hayles, who was first coxwain, said to me “I’m retiring from the lifeboat, will you take over?” It’s been really enjoyable – I’ve loved it. There’s been something different all the time.