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sudoku - Historical RFA

The TARPENBEK Incident

Over the years, in common with a number of other well-known ship operators, the RFA

has suffered a number of unfortunate collisions and one of the most memorable ones

occurred in 1979.

The small West German motor tanker TARBENBEK, owned by Partenreederei m.s.

Tarpenbek under the management of Knohr & Burchand had been launched at Lauenburg

on 05 February 1972 and was completed in the May of that year. She was 74 m in length

with a gross tonnage of 999t, deadweight of 1785t and had a crew of 9.

Having loaded a cargo of 1595t of lubricating oil at the Fawley Refinery on the Solent,

she was on passage from that port to Valloy near Tonsberg in Norway when she was in

collision on 21 st June in thick fog in position 50.39 N 00.53 W off Selsey Bill with RFA

SIR GERAINT.

Her crew of 9 were all rescued by SIR GERAINT who then transferred them to the

Selsey Lifeboat. Fortunately there were no casualties, but SIR GERAINT sustained

damage to her starboard bow door which was buckled and holed. The German ship too

was holed and began to settle by the stern, but nonetheless was carried by the tidal stream

towards the Nab Tower where she was anchored with her stern resting on the bottom.

Owing to high winds and rough seas she capsized and turned turtle on 24 th June and a

quantity of oil began leaking from her ruptured tanks. To prevent a major pollution

incident, she was towed, upside down, to the shelter of Sandown Bay off the Isle of Wight

where her cargo was successfully recovered. She was then eventually righted on 15 th July

and was towed to Rotterdam where she arrived on 18 th July.

Published by James R. Smith, RFA Historical Society - © 2011 RFA Historical Society

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