On the morning of 30 June 2009, the bulk carrier MV Full City sailed from Skagen in Denmark. The vessel was carrying about 1,100 ton of heavy oil and some diesel.
The vessel arrived in Langesund in Telemark before noon on the same day. The vessel was at the time in ballast and was going to take on artificial fertiliser at Herøya in Porsgrunn. Full City dropped anchor at Såsteinflaket outside Langesund on the orders of the vessel's agent while awaiting a quay berth. The vessel was thus 0.9 nautical miles from the nearest land. Såsteinflaket is open towards Skagerrak and unprotected from winds from the south. A near gale was blowing from the southeast when the anchor was dropped. The wave height was calculated between 2-4 meters. A storm warning was broadcast over the radio.
The weather worsened during the evening and the wind increased to a gale. This while turning from the southeast to the south-west. The wave height was calculated to be 4-6 meters. Full City was rolling rapidly and pitching heavily in the sea.
Information from the AIS system shows that Full City started to drift towards shore just before midnight. Just after midnight, Breivik VTS contacted the vessel to inform them the vessel was drifting and asked for information about the situation. The captain tried to start the vessel and gain control over the situation, but his attempts failed. Full City ran around at 00:23 near Såstein. The captain requested assistance at 00:37. A vessel was sent to evacuate the crew. It was impossible to get a line on board because of the bad weather and sea.
Strong winds and high seas increased the damage to the vessel during the night, before the vessel settled on the rocks outside Såstein. The vessel suffered extensive hull damage, which resulted in an oil spill. This polluted the coastline, which included a number of conservation areas and bird reserves.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) received the grounding report at 00:50. The rescue operation was headed by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. Shortly after a large proportion of the Full City's crew was evacuated, the NCA decided to take over the leading of the response. This was due to the major risk of acute pollution.
A large number of resources took part in the operation. The inter-council committees for acute pollution (IUA) in Telemark, Vestfold and Aust-Agder were mobilized. Assistance was provided by the Norwegian Civil Defence and Home Guard. The IUA in Østfold, Vest-Agder and Kristiansand were also placed on standby. Oil spill prevention and response equipment from the emergency response depots in Horten and Kristiansand was mobilized. The NCA fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft and a helicopter assisted in order to provide an overview from the air. The NCA depot teams from Svalbard in the north to Kristiansand in the south were deployed. Both the Norwegian and Swedish Coast Guard assisted with vessel resources.
On 17 August 2009, Full City was refloated so it could be towed to the quay north of Langesund. On 14 September 2009 the job of towing Full City to Sweden started.
Of the total 1,154 ton of oil that was on board Full City, 27 ton were recovered in the maritime operation. 74 ton was recovered in the shore operation. 860 ton was pumped out of the disabled vessel, and 191 ton of oil was left in the environment. Around 3,000 ton of oil-contaminated waste was sent to landfill sites.
The spill caused pollution in the area from Stavern in Vestfold to Lillesand in Aust-Agder. Approximately 200 locations were polluted by oil. The area contaminated with oil included 37 protected nature and bird reserves and geologically protected areas. Many recreational areas and private properties were also polluted with oil. More than 2,000 sea birds died as a direct result of the incident.
The NCA presented a claim to recover the costs the government incurred due to managing the incident. The ship owner has established a limitation fund. This is in line with the rules of the Norwegian Maritime Code to limit its overall financial liability. In October 2020, there was a settlement between the parties.