NOVA, off Iran, 1985

6 December 1985

NOVA, off Iran, 1985


During the night of 6th December 1985 very large crude carrier (VLCC) NOVA, carrying 188,000 tonnes of Iranian Light crude oil, collided with ultra large crude carrier (ULCC) MAGNUM, in ballast, approximately 90 nautical miles south-east of Khark Island in the Gulf of Iran. Both vessels were engaged as shuttle tankers to transport oil between the Khark Island and Sirri Island terminals. The report issued by the flag state of NOVA concluded that the incident occurred due to a lack of running lights on both vessels, a position adopted due to attacks occurring on tankers as a consequence of the ongoing Iran – Iraq war. The collision damaged five cargo tanks on NOVA, resulting in a spill of approximately 70,000 tonnes.


Trajectory modelling of the spilled oil was undertaken with visual monitoring off Bahrain. Oil was observed briefly in this southern area before the wind turned and moved the oil back into the war zone. The oil was expected to evaporate and disperse at sea and no known action was taken, due primarily to the on-going conflict.

ITOPF Involvement

ITOPF travelled to Bahrain and overflew the area to assess the threat of pollution to the southern Gulf States. Technical advisers concluded that there was no significant threat to these States; and so it proved.


  • Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Minister of Finance (1986) In the Matter of the Collision between Liberian Registered Tanker NOVA and the Panamanian Registered Tanker MAGNUM, about 88 Miles South of Kharg Island, Iran, on 6th December 1985, Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Minister of Finance, Liberia.

Categories: Iran, Oil, Oil Tanker, Asia

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