The Spanish cargo ship Luno broke in two after hitting the sea wall near Anglet on the French Atlantic Coast.
All 12 crew members, including one injured sailor, were lifted to safety by two helicopters.
The rescue operation was performed in winds of up to 70 miles an hour.
The cargo ship left the port of Bayonne in the French Basque Country, when it suffered an engine failure that allowed high waves and strong winds to wash it ashore near Anglet.
The force of the wind and waves were such that the 330m-long ship’s hull was pinned against the sea wall and snapped in two.
The ship was not carrying any cargo at the time of accident but contained 127m³ of oil.
Authorities in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region detected a fuel leak and immediately activated the emergency plan, Polmar, to stop maritime pollution and environmental damage.
Local mayor Jean Espilondo questioned why the boat was permitted to enter the port in bad weather.
Espilondo said it had known that the entry conditions for the port of Bayonne were difficult.
The French weather service Meteo France had previously put nine regions of France’s northern and Atlantic coasts on alert due to bad weather conditions.