Cape Town Castle Explosion

Rod F
6th October 2009, 03:35
Does anyone remember the engineroom explosion around 1966/7? I left her in Soton shortly before it took place. Apparently someone put the wrong oil in the air-start valve lubricators which caused the big bang. The correct stuff was green - can't recall the name of it right now.

6th October 2009, 09:04
Some where on this site all the details are shown. Mods can find it.

Steve Woodward
6th October 2009, 10:44
A thread like this is easy to find, check the 'Engine Room' forum and run a search on Capetown Castle and you find : THIS (

double acting
6th October 2009, 11:35
The green oil was a synthetic oil,(don't ask me what that means the inhouse chemist, my son, is in Australia) - non flammable. It was introduced after the Capetown Castle explosion

6th October 2009, 18:31
I sailed with Ronnie Crook who was appointed to the ship a few months later as chief engineer, & I seem to recall he told me that it was something to do with freeing up sticking air start v/v's, hydraulically.
Ah, found the M Notice. If I've done it right, it should be attached.

Rod F
6th October 2009, 20:36
Thanks Wharferat et al - my memory for the date is obviously affected by the declination !

I have a full sectioned drawing of the "new" CT Castle if anyone is interested.

Chris Isaac
10th October 2009, 09:47
The attached picture is from the Company's Magazine of February 1963

Fred Field
25th March 2013, 15:05
As I recollect the synthetic oil was called Haugtosafe? Not quite sure of the spelling but it was a wonderful paint stripper!

David Barton
26th March 2013, 21:04
I f I recall correctly, the Capetown Castle was manoeuvring out of Las Palmas after taking bunkers. An air start valve stuck open on one cylinder, but as in those days mineral oil was used in the start air compressors there was an light oil carry over which lined the air start piping. The combustion heat from the cylinder ignited the oil in the air start system, and the flame carried back to the start air receivers, which caused a massive explosion. Resulting from this disaster flame traps were fitted into air start lines. The green oil mentioned was indeed Houghto-Safe, which may have been synthetic, but was an explosion proof oil. I have seen some photos of the engine-room after the explosion, and anything aluminium, like De Laval purifier covers, had completely disappeared leaving just the steel pipe-work - not a pretty sight. All the staff in the engine-room were killed I believe, and as it was standby there would have been more than the normal watch-keeping complement, except for one who was in the toilet at the time and may have lost his job because of it!

Rod F
17th April 2013, 16:40
It was called autosafe, a green non-flammable oil - as a junior is was my job to 'blow the cocks' and after the first time I had to go change my skivvies!

Chris Isaac
27th June 2013, 16:53
More info here:

Jack Hill
5th March 2014, 07:07
Hi I am Jack H I was 7th Engineer on Capetown castle at the time of the explosion. I can tell you that it was ordinory hydraulic oil use. Unfortunately 1 air start valve stuck open at same time the madter duplex valve stuck upen on top of that by a million to one chance the oil residue that had been used to clear the air start lines was at an unfortunate explosive level these even5s led to flames reaching the air start reservoir with the tragic consequence.
I was in the unhappy position of having to identify my comrades who had died and attended all the funerals to represent the Company

5th March 2014, 07:41
I was EDH in the Rothesay Castle we lay alongside you in Las Palmas for ten days following the accident I believe we where used to power the Capetown Castles generators very sad time as I remember best regards Dave .

Chris Isaac
5th March 2014, 08:28
More info here:

That link is now incorrect and should now be: