The Tricolor, a Japanese-built car carrier collided with the container ship and sank in waters 30m deep in a matter of minutes, in the Pas-de-Calais, 20 miles northwest of Dunkirk. The vessel was carrying 2,862 new luxury cars and 77 containers. The wreck lay on the seabed, leaning on one side presenting a risk for navigation and potential source of pollution.
The Tricolor is known as a worst case scenario. Although only a relatively small amount of oil was spilled, the effect on wildlife quickly grew into one of the more serious incidents in Europe for birds. This was primarily because the spill occurred relatively close to the shore, near to an important area for wintering seabirds. Local responders were overwhelmed by hundreds of birds arriving on shores every day during a 2.5 week period, adding up to over 4,600 in total.
The Tricolor incident and the impact for seabirds in Belgian part of the North Sea. (MUMM/KBIN). Haelters, J. Kerckhof, F. Stienen, E.W.M. 2003 (in Dutch, English and French summaries)
The black tide of the Tricolor. C. Velter. 2003. VOC Oostende (in Dutch)
Royal Belgian Bird Protection (in Dutch and French). De Tricolor ramp. Different papers in the quarterly "Mens en Vogel". 41(1), 2003; 41(2) 2003
The response of the Sea Alarm Foundation to the Tricolor incident; Sea Alarm Foundation, 1993