Cunard Countess 1976 - Cubana Airlines Flight 455 crash - Ships Nostalgia
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Cunard Countess 1976 - Cubana Airlines Flight 455 crash

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  #1  
Old 14th July 2012, 17:39
Peter Eccleson's Avatar
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Cunard Countess 1976 - Cubana Airlines Flight 455 crash

I was leafing through some old 'nostalgia' a few days ago and I came across an old newspaper clipping which my family had kept. It brought back some pretty horrendous memories.

Wednesday October 6th 1976 approximately 1700hrs - 'Cunard Countess' was on her weekly visit to Bridgetown, Barbados and was embarking passengers. As duty radio Officer for the day, I was working on the bridge. There was a bridge visit in progress accompanied by the First Officer.

A DC-8 airliner flew low over Paradise Beach in full view of the ship. A dark 'vapour trail' appeared to be following the jet. A bridge visitor (later identified as a pilot with Delta Airlines) commented aloud "that guy's in trouble". Seconds later the aircraft cartwheeled into the sea about 5 miles away leaving just a huge column of water before.....nothing.

The Captain was alerted and immediately launched all of our s'board side launches manned with any volunteer crew members on board and as many medical staff as were available. We liaised with Barbados Radio and the local coastguard and found that the coastguard cutters were out of operation with engine problems. Cunard Countess was asked to lead the rescue.

I took the first launch (our fastest and one with propeller guards) and others followed.

We got to the scene which stank of aviation spirit on a flat calm surface, but apart from some floating pieces of insulation, there was nothing to be seen........for about twenty minutes.

Our launch was in the centre of the crash scene and other boats were keeping leisure craft at a distance. Then suitcases and bodies started to surface all around us. It was like a scene from some nightmare movie. It was clear that no one would have survived the crash. The harbour tug 'Culpepper' was summoned to help load the bodies and the rest of the wreckage.

We later found out that Cubana Airways flight 455 bound for Kingston Jamaica and Havana had suffered two terrorist explosions 8 minutes after take-off and at 18000ft.

The memories of that day came flooding back.....not that they had ever really gone. Is there anyone else who was there on that day? One of my fellow R/O's Alan (?) who left after that trip?
I'd like to hear from you.
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Old 14th July 2012, 17:47
sparkie2182 sparkie2182 is offline  
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Who was the O.M., Peter?
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Old 14th July 2012, 17:58
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Who was the O.M., Peter?
Think it was Bob Arnott but I'll check my discharge book....First Officer was Robin Woodhall (again, I think)
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Old 14th July 2012, 18:03
sparkie2182 sparkie2182 is offline  
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Thanks Peter...........

The C.R.O. would have been "P.Y."?
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Old 14th July 2012, 18:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Eccleson View Post
Think it was Bob Arnott but I'll check my discharge book....First Officer was Robin Woodhall (again, I think)
Just Googled Flight 455 and amazed at the detail around the disaster. It appears there was a conspiracy about CIA involvement with anti-Castro terrorists and the thread can be followed right up to last year when one of the alleged bombers was released from jail in the US on another offence. There is even a YouTube transcript of the pilot's comms with the tower after the explosions. Seventyeight died (including 5 crew) that day and is is classed as the worst terrorist act against an airliner in the Western Hemisphere up to that time.
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Old 14th July 2012, 22:24
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So America has been known to blow up aircraft for political reasons? Where have we heard that before?
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Old 15th July 2012, 21:29
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So America has been known to blow up aircraft for political reasons? Where have we heard that before?
Leej
According to the research, there was never any proof that that the US was directly influenced in it but there is an indisputable link with the bombers and the CIA
Leaves a lot to the imagination. All I can say is that at the time I would gladly have shoved them out of an open door of an aircraft at 18000ft without a parachute!
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Old 15th July 2012, 21:42
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I was shift charge engineer on duty with the Barbados Light and Power steam generation station that day. The station is directly ashore from the crash site and we had a full view of the recovery operation. This was a tragic event that has repercussions to this day. There is a memorial to the passengers and crew at Payne's Bay and each year on the anniversary, representatives from Cuba and Barbados hold a short remembrance ceremony.

Coop
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  #9  
Old 15th July 2012, 22:19
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Originally Posted by Coop View Post
I was shift charge engineer on duty with the Barbados Light and Power steam generation station that day. The station is directly ashore from the crash site and we had a full view of the recovery operation. This was a tragic event that has repercussions to this day. There is a memorial to the passengers and crew at Payne's Bay and each year on the anniversary, representatives from Cuba and Barbados hold a short remembrance ceremony.

Coop
Coop

Thanks.....guess many people share the memories of that day. It all happened so quickly and I buried the memory deep. However, its awakened memories now. I especially remember a guy from the US FAA taking a statement from me. I repeated what thied pilote Delta Captain had said on our bridge which was "Oh my god! He's stalled it" when the plane crashed. The FAA guy asked me if I was a qualified pilot to which I said No....he said "well just stick to what you saw". Quite right I suppose.
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  #10  
Old 16th January 2014, 00:04
Ameritron Ameritron is offline  
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Peter I was there that day unfortunately I was not part of the operation I believe I was ashore and unaware of the problem until I returned to the ship.
I don't know if I would have been allowed to help anyways as I was part of the casino staff and was considered a passenger by the ship.
Cedric peacock
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  #11  
Old 16th January 2014, 00:59
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good day ameritron,m,today,10:04.re:cunard countess,1976,#10.i have been reading this old thread with interest,i dont think they would have denied your help if needed.a helping hand is always welcome.dont feel guilty.regards ben27
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