Cowes - It's been billed as the Island's environmental catastrophe of the century and has blighted the start of world famous Cowes Regatta Week.
Reports this evening have confirmed the collision between an ocean going yacht, Atlanta of Chester, and the 123851 deadweight-tonne Norwegian vessel M/T Hanne Knutsen off Egypt Point, Isle of Wight.
The crude shuttle was fully laden when the prang took place, resulting in two people being thrown overboard the Atlanta and the yacht losing her mast and rigging.
"Is this the Exxon-Valdez-Mark-Two I ask?" a Marine Accident Investigation Branch source queried tonight.
"Well, nobody's breathalysed the tanker captain and the alleged crude spillage is...still alleged.
"But we're talking toll on habitat, potential loss of unique coastline species**, BP Deepwater/Gulf of Mexico devastation and the loss of the ice cream kiosk near the Cowes Ferry pier."
Coastguard will be keeping an eye out for any signs of devastation expected to surface overnight.
** Retired schoolteachers Sid & Mavis Portondown, out cockling when disaster struck.