Someone will know the answer to this

mikefoster
23rd January 2011, 01:52
Hi all you with knowledge of older Shell tankers
I recall that when I was working in Anglo-Saxon's Marine Staff dept in the early 1950s there was a tragic accident aboard the Dromus at Pulo Bukom, a fire and explosion with loss of life. I think it was between 1951 and 1955 and my inclination is to say 1951. Does anyone have a date for this?

Mike

eriskay
23rd January 2011, 02:25
Dromus
Anglo-Saxon Pet Coy Ltd
O.N. 166560
8,036 tons
Launched 26-06-1938
Complete 14-09-1938
Harland & Wolf / Glasgow
Yard No. 1009 G
Pulo Bokum incident : 20-08-1951
27 lives lost

mikefoster
27th January 2011, 21:13
Very many thanks for the information on the Dromus. I was working in the Marine Staff Dept of Anglo-Saxon at that time, so information on the Dromus explosion came through the office, but my memory wasn't good enough to recall the date. We lost the Clam in 1950, not long after I joined Anglo-Saxon as an office boy.
After writing a string of various books in the past 13 years, we've now turned to trying to write up our own family stories and my days in Anglo-Saxon were obviously part of that.
In the 1950s in St Helens Court in London there was a wonderful basement storeroom of old files and I was sometimes sent down there to retrieve something. The files included the many files about wartime tanker losses, very detailed and graphic stories, and I've often wondered if they all survived. They would have been extraordinary research material.
I do recall that there was some suggestion of a cigarette lighter being found on the bridge of the Dromus but I don't now know what conclusions were reached. I was later moved to the Economics Department of Shell, so I became separated from all that marine material. Then in 1975, after we had emigrated to New Zealand, I was invited back into the oil industry and ran the movements of the coastal tankers between the Marsden Point refinery and the many ports around New Zealand. That occupied the last 17 years of my working life, up to 1992.
Again many thanks
Mike

eriskay
31st January 2011, 13:11
Thanks for that, Mike. Yes - the story of the basement storeroom with old records, reports, photographs is one I am familiar with. In the 1960s when the shipyards started to shut down a tremendous volume of records, estimate books, launching books, repairing schedules, drydock records, drawings and scale models, many which were encased in beautiful hardwood showcases, were just dumped into skips - heartbreaking. Much the same happened with marine engineering and industrial concerns.

Happily, here in Scotland much of the material destined for the skips was saved by a Doctor William Lind of the Ballast Trust, whose voluntary staff then set about recording and cataloguing everything he had gathered over the years - an invaluable archive of information. The late Dr. Lind will always be remembered in Scotland, and further afield, for the important contribution he made to our heritage.

charles henry
4th February 2011, 15:18
Hi all you with knowledge of older Shell tankers
I recall that when I was working in Anglo-Saxon's Marine Staff dept in the early 1950s there was a tragic accident aboard the Dromus at Pulo Bukom, a fire and explosion with loss of life. I think it was between 1951 and 1955 and my inclination is to say 1951. Does anyone have a date for this?

Mike

What caused the explosion, at that time there was still the odd mine floating around UK coast.

chas

tedc
19th July 2011, 20:42
Hi all you with knowledge of older Shell tankers
I recall that when I was working in Anglo-Saxon's Marine Staff dept in the early 1950s there was a tragic accident aboard the Dromus at Pulo Bukom, a fire and explosion with loss of life. I think it was between 1951 and 1955 and my inclination is to say 1951. Does anyone have a date for this?

Mike

There was an incident, which I am pretty sure was the "Dromus" during 1956.

I think the Chippy was killed somewhere off the Phillipines.

I was in the "Naticina", Northbound up the China Sea, when the Autoalarm went off and there was a distress call.

Long time ago, details faint.

Splinter
20th July 2011, 00:31
Is this the same Dromus that was damaged by fire at Buom 1951 which killed 27

www.helderline.nl › tanker

Splinter.

Hugh MacLean
20th July 2011, 18:50
Mike,

From The Times dated 20 Aug 1951.
The bodies of 22 men were today taken from the British oil tanker DROMUS, which early this morning caught fire at Pulau Bukom, the Shell Company's storage island near Singapore. Fifteen other men are in Singapore General Hospital, suffering from shock and injuries; 15 more were treated for shock and minor injuries.

Three Europeans lost their lives. They were the chief officer of the DROMUS, Edward James Dyer, aged 54, of Glasgow; the second officer, Samuel Bryan Pilling, 24, whose home is in Lancashire; and the third officer, Edwin Livesey Hearth, 38, of Leicester. Two Europeans, John Hunter, aged 50 and J.H. Williams, 24, are among the injured.

The DROMUS had loaded 7,000 tons of benzine and nearly 3,000 tons of Diesel fuel, ready for departure today for the Philippines, when an explosion occurred, setting the ship on fire amidships and waking hundreds of Shell employees who were sleeping in their homes on the island. The burning vessel was towed by a tug to a safe anchorage four miles from the oil wharves. The fire lasted 16 hours, but many tons of benzine were still intact in her tanks when further danger from fire was declared over.

The manager of the oil installations on Pulau Bukom, Mr W.H. Williams, dived into the water to rescue a man who had jumped overboard to escape the flames. The master of the DROMUS, Captain H.E. Watkins, who was on shore when the explosion occurred, joined the crew in efforts to subdue the flames, which threatened 250,000 tons of oil products on the island. Captain Watkins was on board when a second explosion ended hopes of getting the fire under control quickly; with others, he jumped overboard and swam to the shore to join fire fighters there.

The Shell management highly praises the courage of the local staff, who took great risks as flames licked the docks on which they worked. One man is believed to have died because he stayed inside a concrete telephone box, passing instructions to pump-houses at the far end of the wharf pipelines. Three Malays who saw motor spirit leaking from a tank on the island closed a valve against great pressure, one of them then diving into the sea to escape the flames, the other two getting away along the wharf.



Regards
Hugh

Denis Mason
12th November 2011, 22:11
On the 28.12 50 in Suez, I was transferred from the Narica. bound north, to the Dromus in Suez docks, swapping places with the 2nd. mate. My name at the time was Denis Mazonowicz. The Dromus was undergoing repairs because someone, walking along the deck one night, had heard a grinding noise coming from No.5 starboard tank. It was caused by a bulkhead breaking away due to rust, such was the state of the hull. Whilst in the docks, the 3rd. mate had come across a group of Egyptians hanging a stray dog and rescued it, and Sandy became a member of the crew.Two days after I joined, we sailed south and eventually joined the Eastern Fleet. The valves were very rusted and difficult to operate but, having spent my apprenticeship on similar ships, I had learnt the habit of opening the valve on the next tank to be filled, and closing it almost shut in good time before requiring it, so was never caught out. One time, when finishing cargo in Singapore, the 3rd. shut the valve, which as usual was very stiff, and on the final turn there was a bang and the valve spun freely. The spindle had broken and we had a full number 6 centre and no means of discharging it. Singapore office was informed, and we sailed for Colombo. On arrival, a superintendent from HO Sing. was waiting with a plan of action. With the Colombo fire brigade at a discreet distance,we commenced pumping from the wing tanks and when down to a suitable level, we lifted 5c hatch, put a couple of boards across and placed the emergency fire pump on top, suction into 5c and discharge into 5 starboard, and transferred the cargo until we could see where the spindle was broken, which was more than half way down. The 1st. mate donned a pair of waders, a life line, the smoke helmet (it was before the days of scba) and armed with a large stilson, wrapped in rags, descended the ladder. The ladder changed direction half way, and I worried about the lifeline being wrapped around the steelwork. However, knee deep in petrol, he succeeded in turning the spindle. Soon, the mate had completed his 2 years and was releived. In July, we entered Keppel docks for annual repairs, and I, the 3rd mate and 2 apprentices immediately swapped places with our opposite numbers on the Amastra on 27.7.51, to work our passages home. We spent 3 weeks messing around loading in Miri and Pladjoe before setting out for Colombo, and were still in the Straits of Malacca when news of the fire was passed from sparks to sparks immediately, but only that the master and c/e had been ashore and all 3 deck officers had perished. I arrived home and heard no mention of the disaster, it had not made the news in the UK, so I kept quiet, preferring my mother to remain ignorant. On my next trip, I learnt more. The total casaulty list and the fact that the dog survived. Much later I heard that a cigarette lighter was found on the 2nd mate's body but it didn't have a flint. There was never a verdict on how the cargo ignited. I am shocked to learn that the company intended keeping the ship on white oil.
Denis Mason

Denis Mason
12th November 2011, 22:21
PS. On re-reading the account, I see that it was reported in The Times. My family obviously did not read that paper.
Denis

tom roberts
13th November 2011, 12:00
Reading this the tragedy that occured reminds me of an accident that happened I think on an Eagle Oil tanker in the Carribean in 1954 when a deck boy lost his life in an engine room explosion, his name was Dickenson and him and I were of the Inedefatigable and a Mr Hobbs who took us both to the pool got him that ship and I was put on a coaster, I was envious of him going to the Carribean but had it been the other way round he might have been writing this letter.I have tried many times to find out more about this tragedy, can anyone who might know more please let me know,it would have been around April May that year.

knighta
27th November 2013, 03:30
There was an incident, which I am pretty sure was the "Dromus" during 1956.

I think the Chippy was killed somewhere off the Phillipines.

I was in the "Naticina", Northbound up the China Sea, when the Autoalarm went off and there was a distress call.

Long time ago, details faint.
Could be that you are thinking about the "Neritopsis" which struck a rock in the Palawan Passage. The Chinese Chippy drowned. Happily, he was the only casualty. Alan Knight