On November 5, 1997, the Kure spilled approximately 4500 gallons of Intermediate Fuel Oil 180 (IFO-180) inside Humboldt Bay. The incident began at approximately 5:00 am at the Louisiana Pacific (LP) Export Dock in Samoa, California. The Kure was tied to the dock and in the process of being repositioned for loading when its starboard hull struck a mooring “dolphin” that punctured the #3 fuel tank. Approximately 150 feet of sorbent boom was deployed on site to contain the spill, but oil escaped the boom and spread with the tide.
The LP Export Dock is located 4.5 miles north of the mouth of Humboldt Bay on the interior side of the North Spit. It is across the Bay from the City of Eureka. Oil was carried into the northern finger of the Humboldt Bay complex with the flooding tide and out towards the Pacific Ocean with the ebbing tide. Trajectory analysis shows that the oil went to the ocean on the first day of the spill. Personnel on the first overflights on November 6 identified black oil product as far as 17.5 miles north of the bay mouth. On subsequent overflights on November 7 and 8, observers detected black oil product offshore and oil sheen at the mouth of the Bay. Wildlife overflights documented oily “mousse” just outside the surf zone as far north as Trinidad Head.