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  • Date Submitted: 02/06/2009 4:36 AM
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• Alaska Oil Spill Commission. 1990. Spill: The Wreck of the Exxon Valdez. Final Report. Juneau: State of Alaska. 1990. 224 p.
• National Transportation Safety Board. 1990. Marine Accident Report: Grounding of the U.S. Tankship Exxon Valdez: on Bligh Reef, Prince William Sound, near Valdez, Alaska, March 24, 1989. Washington, D.C.: NTSB. NTSB/MAR-90/04. 255 p.
• Piper, E. 1993. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: Final Report, State of Alaska Response. Anchorage: Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation. 184 p.
• U.S. Coast Guard. 1993. T/V Exxon Valdez oil spill: Federal On Scene Coordinator's report. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: Dept. of Transportation. 570 p.
History Home >> FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About the Spill

How did the Exxon Valdez go aground and spill oil?

The Exxon Valdez departed from the Trans Alaska Pipeline terminal at 9:12 pm, March 23, 1989. William Murphy, an expert ship's pilot hired to maneuver the 986-foot vessel through the Valdez Narrows, was in control of the wheelhouse. At his side was the captain of the vessel, Joe Hazelwood. Helmsman Harry Claar was steering. After passing through Valdez Narrows, pilot Murphy left the vessel and Captain Hazelwood took over the wheelhouse. The Exxon Valdez encountered icebergs in the shipping lanes and Captain Hazelwood ordered Claar to take the Exxon Valdez out of the shipping lanes to go around the ice. He then handed over control of the wheelhouse to Third Mate Gregory Cousins with precise instructions to turn back into the shipping lanes when the tanker reached a certain point. At that time, Claar was replaced by Helmsman Robert Kagan. For reasons that remain unclear, Cousins and Kagan failed to make the turn back into the shipping lanes and the ship ran aground on Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m. March 24, 1989. Captain Hazelwood was in his quarters at the time.

Why did it happen?

The National Transportation Safety...