The Braer, a Liberian-flagged tanker carrying 85,000 tons of Norwegian crude oil, spewed its load into the North Sea after its engines failed amid huge waves whipped up by gale-force winds. The appalling weather persisted after the dramatic rescue operation, hampering efforts to contain the spillage.
As the Department of Transport launched an inquiry into what threatened to be Britain's worst maritime pollution disaster for a quarter of a century, questions were raised about why the Braer was so close to a protected zone.
The year also began violently. A 14-year-old boy was shot dead while queuing for a takeaway meal in Manchester, a businessman was gunned down in a central London street and a Catholic father and son were killed by loyalist gunmen in Co Tyrone.
Police expressed fears that youngsters on the notorious Moss Side estate in Manchester were routinely obtaining firearms and using them to settle minor squabbles.
Donald Urquhart, 55, a millionaire property developer, was shot dead in front of his girlfriend while waiting to hail a taxi to a London restaurant. Police believe that he was killed by a professional hitman who had been stalking him for months.
Two towering figures were lost to the arts world. Rudolf Nureyev, regarded as the greatest modern male ballet dancer, died in Paris at the age of 54 after a long illness. The Siberian- born Nureyev transformed British ballet after defecting to the West in 1961.
In New Jersey, the legendary jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie, died at the age of 75. Gillespie, co-creator with saxophonist Charlie Parker of the be-bop style, was a contemporary of jazz giants such as Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.
A less final departure was made by Bill Wyman, ageing bass guitarist with The Rolling Stones, who announced that he had parted company with the band after 30 years.
Over-eating was raised as a possible reason for the general glumness of the population at this time of year. A leading medical journal suggested that the return to normal blood cholesterol levels after the prandial excesses of the festive season could cause depression.
As the big travel companies competed to attract early summer bookings from people seeking to cheer themselves up, it emerged that lager louts are the latest victims of the recession. In contrast to previous years, hooliganism did not rank a mention in a survey of complaints about holidays in 1992.Reuse content