MV Ronsard Fire

John Mepham
14th November 2006, 16:20
I wonder if anybody out there remembers the Ronsard catching fire in 1967
( late summer ).
I was on the 4 - 8 afternoon engine room watch, I can't remember if I was
5th or 4th Engineer at the time ( well I am now 65 !!! ) when the bridge rang
down asking me to change over fresh water suction from No. 6 port & starboard to the forepeak tank, when I did this I lost suction on the pump
so I notified the bridge that the tank must be empty, they said it was full
( just filled 2 days earlier in Las Palmos ) so I tried again with the same results, they then told me to leave it and they would get the chippy to check
it, The next 4 - 8 watch the 2nd Engr. ( Ben Smith , where are you now Ben ? ) came down to tell me that the No1 hold was on fire, and they were about to discharge the CO2 bottles into it, this had no effect and we were
diverted down the English channel to London, where the London fire brigade put it out.
It was later found that the pipe had sheared off the forepeak tank and drained into No. 1 hold, which was loaded with dried cattle blood & cattle
hide's, spontaneous combustion had done the rest.
I recall listening to the report of us sailing down the channel on Radio Caroline
Still we had a good run ashore for a week in London at the hight of the
flower power & hippy craze.