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Bantry Bay,25 years ago

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  • Goldie fish
    replied
    Welcome Gerry. Always good to have a few more aboard

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  • Gerry25
    replied
    hptmurphy, excellent info. One small correction, the diver in question was Danny O'Neill, retired as Cdr. (Elec.). The oil in the water jammed his demand valve.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    "one of the worst disasters to affect the west cork seafaring community"
    The worst disaster by far I'd say, not just to the seafaring community in west cork but to the Bantry region in general as it has never really recovered financially from the economic loss of the initial terminal. The new setup will never provide the same levels of income as the old setup did. The town has failed to develop in the same way as some other West Cork towns in the past 25 years and if the disaster had not happened I have no doubt Bantry would be quite a vibrant port and town. Nowadays they can't even secure funding for refurbishment of the existing and quite dilapidated pier while some of it's west cork neighbours get grants for planting flowers.

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  • hptmurphy
    replied
    modern tanker s are pumped full of inert gases to replace the cargo which leaves many highly volitile gases behind ... this was not the case with the betelguese and was actually one of the better points to arise from the disaster. there should have been fire fighting vessels on standby durin the unloading of any such vessel but this was not the case ..another lesson learned.

    the whole scenario on that level ahd never been envisaged ..but in fairness lessons have been learned...i think also that the whole situation does require and impartial publication given the magnitude of the situation.

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  • Goldie fish
    replied
    TG4 had an interesting documentary(as they often do) about this disaster recently,and using archive footage gave an interesting tale of what happened.
    Betelgeuse was due to head to the breakers after delivering her cargo to Whiddy,having been diverted there after experiencing rough seas in the Bay of Biscay. This was at a time when the Suez Canal was still closed to larger traffic,and the VLCCs had to round the cape when transitting from the Arabian oilfields to europe or the US.
    As Betelgeuse entered bantry Bay,she met her sister ship,Casiopee,which was also heading for the breakers yard.What is known of what then happened for sure is that while she was being offloaded,the front and rearmost tanks were unloaded first,causing the bow and stern to become lighter and more Buoyant than the centre of the tanker. Physics being what it is,the heavier mid section broke away from the rest of the ship,in a massive explosion which demolished the accomodation section where most if not all of the crew were located. the centre section soon sank,leaving the bow sticking famously out of the water surrounded by an oil fuelled fire..The refinery workers who had been working on the jetty(which could only be accessed by water) were unable to escape the intense heat and all were killed,presumaby by fire,but many would also have drowned in an attempt to escape the jetty by jumping into the burning sea.
    The fire was so intense that when the alarm was raised,local boats were unable to get close,as the windows in their wheelhouses began to heat and crack. It is at this point however that there are many questions.
    The locals in Bantry give the explosion happening somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes BEFORE the Oil Company state it happened. The inference being drawn from this is that whoever should have been monitoring the unloading was not where they say they were at the time in question,and the time was altered..they were also not in a position to begin evacuating the refinery workers before the fire got out of control and perhaps there were a matter of minutes where an evacuation could have been successful? Could men have been in the water waiting for rescue,only to find themselves surrounded as time passed by burning oil? Lots of questions..few answers..

    It is an interesting story nonetheless and i would like to see someday someone like Daire Brunicardi,who has written so well on Naval and Nautical matters in the past,and who was involved in the Coordination of the rescue/search/Salvage of the ship,would write a final account of what happened on that day,which is fading fast from memory as one of the worst disasters to affect the west cork seafaring community.

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  • hptmurphy
    replied
    Ah ! Now i understand...you got the article from somewhere else.


    I thought it was unlike you to make such an error.

    Who published the original? Maybe he needs to know of this error?

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  • Goldie fish
    replied
    Funny enough I also doubted that story myself murf,it was something mentioned in the local papers..though I do know that Derbyshire may have been an OBO,rather than a pure bulker. She was carrying Ore at the time she sank/broke up/dissapeared..
    Losing the hatch cover caused her loss,but did not explain why she Broke up so violently.
    Thank you for correcting me on the Ships name by the way..it explains why I could not find any details....

    http://www.shipstructure.org/derby.shtml

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  • hptmurphy
    replied
    Eh.....Goldie beg to differ but the vessel that exploded at bantry was a tanler .....the vessel the 'derbyshire' was a bulk carrier. the Derbyshire was lost in the south china sea during a typhoon ....the cause is reckoned to be that she lost a hatch cover and the ingress of water broke her back.


    I think the comparison that you wish to make is with the Kowloon Bridge which was also a swan Hunter built bulk carrier . The said vessel ran aground on the Stags Rocks in 1987 and was broken up.

    The alledged design fault in these sister ships was the lack of longitudal stiffnerers........which gave the vessels a tendency to flex in heavy seas.... as a result if their cargo shifted or became overloaded the back of the ship would snap with fatal results......


    Its alright Goldie I know you were only testing me.

    Interestingly enough the remains of the hulk was towed out to sea to be sunk but due to a pocket of air trapped in the bow it refused to do so......

    Naval Service to the rescue and The L.E. Deirdre had to fire 40mm rounds into the foward section to sink it.


    More useless info.......the minesweeper L.E. Banba had a diver down.....the Former LT Cdr Dan O Neill and he ran into air supply problems at the jetty and was nearly drowned..

    I vividly remember the reports of the accident on the TV back then and was amazed to see the remains of the jetty on my first visit to the area when I was in the NS.
    Last edited by hptmurphy; 5 January 2019, 22:57.

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  • yooklid
    replied
    My Dad was working in the old IIRS at the time (In fact he retires next July). He told me that the brought portions of the hull to Dublin for testing and that there was so much rust throughout the vessel that the iron oxide basically acted like thermite and increased the power of the explosion.

    As some of my dads tales can be a bit tall, I will leave it up to our resident Pyromaniac YJ to let me know the validity of that one.

    -Y

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  • Goldie fish
    started a topic Bantry Bay,25 years ago

    Bantry Bay,25 years ago

    Most of you will be too young to remember one of the worst maritime disasters of recent times,which Occurred in the Whiddy Island Oil terminal,not far from Bere Island,on the 8th of January 1979.
    The 140,000 tonne oil tanker Betelgeuse,while unloading her cargo at the oil terminal,suffered a catostrophic explosion,and was destroyed,killing 51,including the crew of the French Owned vessel,as well as local workers,and the Bantry Pilot.
    The explosion broke the ships hull in two,and much of the wreckage was a landmark in the bay,albeit a sad reminder,for many years after.
    Today you can still see the Storage facility,which still operates,however the relic of the jetty which was destroyed in the explosion remains to this day,and is easily visible from land for anyone who has visited Bere Island.
    The explosion was heard up to 20 miles away. At the time our SAR facilities were almost non existant on the south west coast,but local boats soon realised that searching the burning black sea for survivors was impossible. I remember the fire burned for some time,damped down by the firefighting tugs stationed nearby,but the Black plume could be seen clearly as I looked west from my own house,though we were almost 70 miles away.
    An investigation revealed it was caused by a design flaw,which also caused the loss of its sister ship "Devonshire",and the absence of an inert gas system aboard the vessel.
    The Owners of the vessel,Gulf,made many promises,railroaded the inquiry proceedings with their corporate "spin" and abandoned Whiddy Island and Ireland,leaving a sad reminder of a tragic day,and little else.

    Whiddy island still serves as a storage facility,but loading and unloading is now done from a floating Buoy,rather than a fixed jetty.

    The Monument to the disaster in Bantry
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