The ship that caused the nation’s worst oil spill is ready for sea trials after a $30-million repair job to its mangled hull, the repair company said Tuesday.
The Exxon Mediterranean, formerly the Exxon Valdez, has been undergoing dock trials at a pier at National Steel & Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego after being floated out of a dry dock last month.
The ship, which was built at Nassco and delivered to Exxon in 1986, was scheduled to depart early Wednesday for a week of sea trials about 200 miles offshore, said Nassco spokesman Fred Hallett.
It had been undergoing repairs for 11 months.
The tanker was renamed in July, and Exxon officials said it would be put into service in the Mediterranean. They denied that renaming the tanker and sending it to the Mediterranean were related to the massive spill.
The ship spilled almost 11 million gallons of oil when it struck a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, fouling hundreds of miles of coastline and killing untold numbers of wildlife.
Exxon officials had said the vessel is too big for any U.S. Pacific ports when fully loaded. They said declining production from Alaskan oil fields has reduced the need for such large tankers on West Coast shipping routes.
The tanker holds nearly 1.4 million barrels of crude. One barrel contains 42 gallons.
Exxon officials did not return telephone calls about the ship Tuesday.
Workers replaced the single-hulled ship’s damaged steel with 3,000 tons of new, inch-thick steel.
Exxon officials had said last month that the ship would stop in Singapore en route to ports in the Mediterranean, but the crisis in the Persian Gulf could alter some of those plans, Exxon officials have said.