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Old 23rd August 2009, 15:59
roythwa roythwa is offline  
Organisation: Merchant Navy
Department: Radio Officer
Active: 1958 - 1964
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 78
Esso Oxford

My maiden voyage 1959/60 as junior r/o we were in the bay of biscay and another esso tanker blew her sides out some clot dropped something into the tanks. You would bot believe that it was flat calm as we escorted her to gib.

Might have been the Chatham but cant be sure a sparks same as me a junior was on her.

He might be around if so get in touch buddy.

Roy Thwaites (Soton)
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Old 23rd August 2009, 16:46
K urgess K urgess is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
My location
Posts: 83
Probably this one

The ESSO DURHAM was outward bound from Fawley after discharging a cargo of stabilised Arabian crude from Ras Tanura.
The explosion occurred in No.4 tank and was luckily limited to that tank because nos 3 centre & 5 port, starboard and centre tanks were ballasted.
Apparently an adapter plate had to be used for the Butterworth machines when used on no. 4 tanks because the tank was partially under the forrard accommodation.
No. 4 centre had been cleaned and the port Butterworth had been removed.
On 29th January the vessel was about 100 miles west of Gibraltar.
At about 1345 a party of four ABs and one SOS started removing the Butterworth from the starboard deck opening of no.4 centre tank.
The carrier for the hose had a wing nut missing and while being removed the other wing nut and the hing pin came loose and the carrier fell into the tank.
One of the seamen reported hearing a thump as it appeared to hit something on the way down.
There was a flash and a rumble and "the party round the opening prudently decided to run forward and started to do so".
There were at least three explosions. The fore and aft bulkheads seperating no.4 centre tank from the no.4 wing tanks were blown outwards and the shell plating above the waterline in both wing tanks was blown outboard. The main deck above no.4 tanks was bulged upward with some tearing of the deck plates. The bulkhead to nos. 3 & 5 were bulged and split.
The view from the bridge was completely obscured by thick black smoke and flames from the aftereffects of the explosions.
I sailed with the second mate that was on the bridge at the time and, having just recovered from being blown up on the ESSO PLYMOUTH, he left the bridge in a hurry telling the cadet and helmsman to keep up.
Somewhere there are pictures of the damage because the second mate, who was Master of the "World's Favourite Tanker" when I met him, had copies.
The damage was spectacular and the bridge front looked as if it had been machine gunned as the rivets were shot at it.

Most of the above is from the "Report of Court (No.8028) s.s. "Esso Durham" O.N. 300766".

"20. The court has considered a number of pos-
sible causes of this casualty and has come to the
conclusion that the most probable cause of the first
explosion was that the cast brass hose carrier in
No. 4 centre tank fell off the Butterworth hose after
leaving the tubular rail while being removed from
the tank at the conclusion of tank washing in that
tank and in its fall struck a magnesium anode,
thereby causing an incendive spark which ignited gas
in the tank and that the subsequent explosions and
fire resulted from such first explosion."

This is copied from another trhread -
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Old 12th March 2018, 19:32
madasahatter madasahatter is offline  
Organisation: Merchant Navy
Department: Deck
Active: 1961 - 1966
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 4
i was on the oxford as a jos early 63 i think joined her in north shields with a run to venezula she had been in dry dock for some time and when we sailed that was when the problems started engine failure in the north sea waiting for tugs or flambourgh head witchever came first towed to redcar set sail again for another engine failure just after realeasing the tugs to be towed back into redcar another start and we limped all the way there and back on coming back up the english chanel with a following sea when we went down to our cabins we had more water in the cabins than on deck as the port hole seals were nackered was an interesting experiance and felt sorry for the engineers happy days
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