Image: Bright Artemis tanker.
The Bright Artemis, a Japanese-operated, Singaporean-registered tanker, is shown in this undated photo. The tanker spilled about 1.4 million gallons of crude oil in the eastern Indian Ocean near the Nicobar islands following a collision with a cargo ship, on Monday.
updated 8/15/2006 7:05:51 AM ET 2006-08-15T11:05:51

A Japanese tanker spilled about 1.4 million gallons of crude oil in the eastern Indian Ocean following a collision with a cargo ship, the tanker’s operator said Tuesday.

The spill is believed to be the largest ever involving Japanese-operated tankers, according a ship owner Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.

The Bright Artemis tanker spilled the oil following a collision Monday with the Amar, a smaller cargo ship, Mitsui O.S.K. said in a statement. The accident took place 300 miles west of India’s Nicobar Islands as the tanker tried to maneuver near the Amar, which had reported a fire on board.

Both ships are registered in Singapore.

The exact amount of the spill was not clear, the announcement said. The tanker was carrying about 77.6 million gallons of crude. It had left port in Oman bound for the Japanese port of Chiba, near Tokyo, Mitsui O.S.K. spokesman Hidenori Onuki said.

Limited environmental impact
There was no risk of further leaks and the tanker had left the accident scene. It was seeking a port for repairs before continuing on to Japan, Onuki said.

There were no reports of injuries aboard the tanker, which had a Croatian captain and crew of 23, or on the Amar. The Amar’s crew was rescued by the Bright Artemis and other ships nearby.

The environmental impact from the spill, which occurred hundreds of miles from the nearest land, was believed to be limited.

Mitsui O.S.K. said the spill had been reported to Singaporean and Indian Coast Guard officials.

The largest oil spill involving a U.S. vessel occurred when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker emptied 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska in 1989, killing hundreds of thousands of birds and marine animals and soiling more than 1,200 miles of rocky beach.

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