6th August 2010, 00:45
My father died on June 13th 1978 serving on board the Anco Duke (I think it was that vessel). He was the Chief Officer. The incident happened at sea during tank cleaning: 7 men died in total, including my Dad.
I've been trying to find out a little more information and I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who knew my Dad or served with him: he worked for Athelline initially, then Anco - or was it AthelAnco?! - which I believe was taken over by P+O to become Panocean Anco.
Does anyone know how or where I could find reports of the incident, or any kind of background information? My sisters and I were talking about it recently and realised that we know very little about it. I can recall how many people attended his funeral and were so very kind about Dad. There was an inquest abroad but I'm not sure where: I know they were in International waters and there was some query over jurisdiction initially.
6th August 2010, 01:11
I'm looking for some information about my father, Edmond Lyons, who died aboard the Anco Duke (I think that's the correct vessel) on June 13th 1978. He was the Chief Officer. 7 men, including my Dad, died during the incident, which happened during in International waters during tank cleaning. There were some problems over jurisdiction so I don't know where the inquest was but I know that it was delayed as a result.
My sisters and I realised recently that we knew very little about what happened, although I can recall that many people came to his funeral and were lovely about Dad.
Any advice about this would be much appreciated: where could we look for more details/information?
6th August 2010, 12:51
Other members may be able to offer more information, but in the meantime take a look at http://guestbooks.pathfinder.gr/read/mnaguest?pass=&page=55 and scroll down to Posting number 1384. Despite it being an old post you may be able to make contact with the writer who may be able to give you some answers.
6th August 2010, 15:52
Hello Marina yes it was the Anco Duke i was on the anco empress at the time of that unfortunate incedent we got a circular letter to all ships I think it was chinese crew. they were down the tanks removing the sludge as i recall two or three of them were overcome by fumes which led to other crew members going down to help them without breathing apperatus if i remember rightly these men were halfway down the tank when they were also overcome by the fumes the resulting loss of life was indeed 7 which im sorry to hear your father was one I hope this has been some help to you
6th August 2010, 19:53
Just to add a little.
The vessel was on a voyage Tokyo for Los Angeles. She sailed light but her tanks had tallow residue and one/two feet water.
The other officer who was killed was second officer John Nolan from Wexford. Five Chinese crewmen were also lost. The ship was 1500 mile from Honolulu when the incident happened and she made an unscheduled stop there on June 20th.
There would be a BOT enquiry report some where possibly at Southampton City Archive but I doubt it will tell you much more than the nuts and bolts already reported.
6th August 2010, 22:03
Hi Ken and Roger,
Many thanks for the replies: it is good to hear from people who recall the incident too - I was beginning to wonder if there was any record of it all!
I knew the second officer was from Wexford but couldn't recall his name, and I wasn't sure if the crew were Chinese or Malaysian as I know Dad worked with both.
I thought the first crewman who went down into the tank had broken his leg and the others went down to try and bring him up as it was the slop tank(?) which was filling up - what would the normal procedure be for tank cleaning? Would it be unusual for someone to go into the tank?
I can remember Dad talking about all these things when he was showing us around one of the ships which was in dry dock in Birkenhead (I think!), but can't recall it all now! We stayed on board with him overnight that time - I was supposed to join him on Anco Duke that summer for a while but my O Levels were on later than expected, luckily as it turns out I suppose.
There was an official report but we don't have it now: would it be easy to get from Southampton?
6th August 2010, 23:17
Thanks very much for the link to Denise: I will contact her and see if we can pool info. I know that 7 men died in total, including my Dad and her uncle, Sťan. Mum was in touch with Sťan's widow for a while afterwards.
Hopefully just the beginning - thanks again!(Thumb)
31st December 2011, 17:15
Hi, Marc, I hope you are still following this thread and get this message.
I was also working for Anco at the time, and I had sailed with both your father and John Nolan on previous ships.
I was home on leave when it happened, but my brother was a cadet on the Anco Duke at the time.
The ship had discharged tallow. The practice at the time was to immediately after discharge put about 2' of sea water into the tank, and turn the heatng coils on full blast to get it nice and hot. The combination of the steam and the mechanical effect of the sloshing around of the hot sea water would bring most of the tallow sticking to the tank bulkheads down into the water, where it would form into big balls flotaing in the sea water. After a couple of days the heat would be turned off, and the tallow balls would solidify.
Crew members would then go down into the tank and load the tallow balls into drums to be hauled up on deck. What happened was that one of the three crew members in the tank either slipped or was knocked over by the sloshing water, and broke his leg. John Nolan, as the deck OOW, went into the tank with another seaman to bring out the injured man. One of them either fell off the ladder or slipped, and Eddie Lyons and another seaman went down to help.
It was later determined that the tank - which was one of the smallest tanks on the ship - had a low oxygen content due to the tallow balls breaking up and exposing fresh surface. As the tallow oxidized it sucked the oxygen out of the air.
This, by the way, is not an unusual statistic for fatalities. On average, about 70% of all confined space fatalities are rescuers.
3rd January 2012, 00:45
many thanks for your reply. It is interesting to know exactly what the procedure was for cleaning the tanks: I know that we were told at the time that the tank shouldn't have been opened at that stage and no-one seemed to know why the initial crewman (who broke his leg) went down there. Obviously when he got into difficulty it was a matter of urgency to get him out of there as fast as possible.
This is the first time I've heard the details about the tallow and the resulting lack of oxygen: I always understood that there were unexpected fumes which knocked them out. Dad apparently passed out and fell off the ladder before the crewmen around the top could catch him. They then had to wait for breathing apparatus before going into the tank.
It's ironic as I remember that Dad was always going away on safety training courses and made it a priority when boarding a ship.
As I said in an earlier post, I was supposed to join him on board but my O Levels ran later than expected, thank heavens!
How old was your brother at the time, if he was a cadet? It must have been a difficult journey to Honolulu afterwards.
We still have a beautiful painting which one of the crew sent us in Dad's luggage when it was returned to us: it's Chinese style, mountain and rivers - Mum had it framed and it's still hanging in her house.
Actually, I have copies of some of Dad's old cine films, including some he took on board various ships. Perhaps there may be a way to put them up to see if anyone can identify the ships/crew members involved - some of them are quite funny! One was filmed passing through a wide shipping canal, possibly the Suez? I'll look into how to post it up, it may be of interest to you.
Richard, thank you once more for taking the time to write to me: it was very informative, and it's good to hear from people who knew Dad. It was so very long ago yet it feels like only yesterday at times.
Happy New Year:may 2012 be good to you and yours,