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Tom Phillips

Just seen your letter.
My late brother in law Tom Phillips was R/O on board then,he had only left the bridge and gone for a meal when the explosion happened.Have a cutting from the local paper of him and crew coming back to Birkenhead.
Hi
I was R/O on Atlantic Bridge and copied the messages of the Distress situation between British Comet and Ocean Bridge. We were too far away to render any assistance. Tom did a brilliant job handling the Radio Distress traffic especially as the R/O on British Comet had no power apart from his emergency batteries.
The British Comet R/O was sending an SOS update to say that all was ok and that Ocean Bridge was standing by them when all of a sudden he stopped, then sent "just blown up". There was a stunned silence around all ships listening, we were not sure if he meant British Comet, then he commenced to send a new SOS naming Ocean Bridge in distress.
I met Tom Phillips a few months later when I relieved him on "Oxfordshire". He told me that they had all their boats swung out to assist Bristish Comet if necessary, as it happened, this was fortunate as it allowed them to abandon ship more easily.
I believe the Indian helmsman was also killed in the explosion. The fact that most were at Dinner saved many lives as the Saloon faced aft on those ships.
Regards

Alan Melia
 

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Hi Don
We saw Ocean Bridge when she was anchored in Gibralta after the disaster.
We could see right through her so assume the explosion took port and starboard sides out. We were delivering Mr Bibby to Gibralta after a Med Cruise. He chose to leave at Gib so as to see the ship.

Regards
Alan Melia
 

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Don
Yes it certainly was a sight. After the disaster she was down by the stern, the draft aft was apparrantly 110 ft! When we saw her in Gib, she had been pumped out, also she was light ship, so the view was dramatic. At the time of the explosion she was tank cleaning and she was not fitted with Inert Gas system. Mr Bibby and the fleet in general were very shocked at the time because we had an excellent safety record in Bibby's. As you probably know, Bibby's was not a huge fleet so almost everyone knew someone who was directly involved. This was especially true later when the "Derbyshire" disaster took place.

Alan
 
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