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Discussion Starter #1
I wonder if anyone could tell me if a casualty list exists of those lost in the tragic loss of Houlder's 'Royston Grange' when she was engulfed in flames following a collision, I believe whilst approaching Montivideo. If memory serves this would have been about 1971/72. I believe the Houlder vessel was in collision with a tanker, the resultant fire causing the deaths of all hands(?) aboard the 'Royston Grange'
I was at South Shields Tech. with a lad from North Wales who I believe was lost in this terrible accident.

Thank you

Neil Marsden
 

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Neil

If you look in my gallery(gadgee) there is a photo I took of Royston Grange after the collision and a few comments about the incident from others including a link to a South American web site, but as for a list of the dead, I do not know where you would get that. There is the WWW but expect you may have tried that?
 

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Royston Grange

Thank you for that, I am pleased to report that I have received another response by a member and from the information that he has been able to provide I am delighted to report that my former 'classmate' was not listed amongst the casualties, although as I am sure you are aware all aboard perished. It seems my information had been incorrect and though he may have sailed on the vessel, it was not at the time of the incident.

Thank you,

Neil M
 

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Royston Grange Collision

The Royston Grange was a fine ship on which I had the pleasure to serve as a Deck Apprentice in the early 1960’s, As I emigrated to Canada in 1970 to work as a Hydrographic Surveyor, I was until a while ago oblivious to her fate. Searching the internet I have found that a lot of people have expressed a desire to know more about the collision, and I have managed to glean the following from several reports. I hope it is reasonably accurate, but I cannot confirm all the facts as they are in some cases only hearsay. However, the main facts include professional reports of the time. The ROYSTON GRANGE was constructed by Hawthorne, Leslie & Co in Hepburn in 1958. At dawn on the 11 of May of 1972- at approximately 05:20 hours around kilometer 161.500 of the Indian Channel , between the pairs of buoys 15 and 16 a very serious collision occured between the s/s Royston Grange of British flag ( Houlder Brothers ) that had departed Buenos Aires and the tanker Tien Chee of Liberian flag that entered the channel destined for Silver. The collision, caused by low visibility and the narrowness of the channel in which both ships sailed, resulted in the death of all the crew and the passengers of the English ship and 8 members of the crew of the chino/liberiano oil tanker (at that time it was said that the Royston Grange, dispatched by the Argentina Prefecture, was loaded with P15, white phosphorus in its bow, a noncMetal whose point of fusion is 44.2 C°). Phosphorus in its pure form is white, and is the most dangerous form of such substance since it reacts with the oxygen very quickly. The Tien Chee, of 26,400 tons displacement, had the following dimensions: length 177 meters, beam 21.50 and drew 9.15 meters. The Royston Grange, of 18,000 tons of displacement, had dimensions of 149 meters length, 20 metres beam and drew 7.30 meters. The total crew, relatives, and passengers of the English ship were killed (a total of 75 people), also 8 crewmembers of the oil tanker. The reasons were never fully clarified; but it was speculated that wind drift by the ROYSTON GRANGE and the shallow bottom of the channel caused the two vessels to come together. The result of this “ connection” was to create sparks which then ignited the tanks of TIEN CHEE. After the accident, the TIEN CHEE was towed touching bottom into the so called “Common Zone”, whereas the ROYSTON GRANGE was taken to Montevideo and later towed to Spain for scrapping. ( The Dannebrog Fleet 1883-1993), a book which has a photo of the TIEN CHEE, offers a detailed description of the incident, and puts forward the theory that an explosive gas cloud which emanated from the TIEN CHEE might well have enveloped the English ship while it drifted and was then ignited from the sparks, thus creating a sudden devastating inferno. It indicates that both ships were passing by when the ROYSTON GRANGE fell suddenly to port. The force of the shock was so great that the English ship, besides hitting the TIEN CHEE had the effect of gashing open the lateral tank 7 of the Liberian ship, and continued on puncturing its tanks 8, 9 and 10 as the vessels scraped past each other. According to reports from rescue craft, the cause seemed to be that the Royston Grange had bounced against the Liberian ship in region of its engine room, bridge and stern. In those zones the Tien Chee.showed fire damage I have also gathered that it was THIS INCIDENT that took Argentina near to war with Uruguay. The problem was the intervention of Uruguayan Navy with the Royston Grange as it drifted and the presence of the patrol crafts King and Murature that had orders to shoot if the ship was not given up. This was the leading fact which brought about urgent negotiations which eventually resulted in the Treaty of the River of the Silver and its Marine Front, Montevideo, ( 19 of November 1973 ). It was reported that the butter cargo carried by the ROYSTON GRANGE was observed at the heart of a storage warehouse after the collision and was apparently congealed but lay intact in approx blocks 30 x 50 cms. However the funnel of the ship and most of the upper works was as if it had left the shipyard, without finishing. All glass items were fused, the brasswork had fused and the paintwork was burned and vaporized, and seemed almost burnt clean as if it were oxidized plate. All in all a quite horrific story.

This story is particularly chilling to me as I remember well as a senior apprentice on the Royston Grange, being on the wheel coming into B.A. down the same channel. It was quite an honour for me to be allowed to do this by the Captain. All went well , the Argentine pilot was taken on board, and I carefully followed his instructions. It soon became clear however that the depth of the channel was minimal and had a very strong effect on the steering, pulling the vessel unexpectedly to one side or the other. The Captain got edgy and started to countermand the pilots orders. All became confused and I was ordered to hand over control to the Captain himself.
The Captain had the good grace to apologise to me afterwards, but indicated that he was very much in fear of the vessel going aground. Thus, I can well believe how the ship acted prior to the collision.

I end this by offering my deepest sympathy to anyone who had family aboard. I was sent a crew list today, and whilst there are no ranks mentioned, I know that some of those who perished were known to me.
 

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A terrible tragedy indeed. Butter was also the cause of a disaster in the tunnel between France and Italy some years ago,a fire broke out in the engine of a large lorry carrying butter and the lorry burst into flames trapping people in cars inside the tunnel,there was many deaths as the fire trucks could not get in to put the fire out.
John
 

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DouglasJamesmichael

I was in Bahia Blanca Argentina, March 1975 - being an Engineer onboard -the Loch long ex Pacific Ocean - was socialising one night onboard the Harwicke Grange - Houlder Bros I was told about the Royston Grange and it has stayed with me to this day. My belated sympathies to all concerned.

Doug
 
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I have the Memorial Service Do***ent which list all the crew & passengers.The Chief Steward W.Hagan, a collegue of mine was on his retirement trip and the Company told him to take his wife and daughter as a retirement gift.If anyone wants a copy give me a shout and I will try to upload it(I'm new to this computer stuf)
Regards leo hannan
 

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I was in Motevideo a little while after the tragedy. The Royston Grange was on a lay by berth, a very sad sight indeed.

Dave
 

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Memorial List

leo hannan said:
I have the Memorial Service Do***ent which list all the crew & passengers.The Chief Steward W.Hagan, a collegue of mine was on his retirement trip and the Company told him to take his wife and daughter as a retirement gift.If anyone wants a copy give me a shout and I will try to upload it(I'm new to this computer stuf)
Regards leo hannan

Hello Leo,

I would like to see the memorial list for the "Royston Grange". I was in the engine room about 1963 - 1965. I thought she was a very pretty ship and enjoyed my time on board her, I'm hoping that none of the people I knew were involved with the accident, chances are good given the amount of time between my time and the accident. Thinking particularly of the chief and second Engineers. I'd appreciate all you can do to help.
 
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Hello chris. Just read your message, if you have,nt received the do***ents from other sources send me your e-mail address and I will oblige.
Regards Leo
Chris Stone said:
Hello Leo,

I would like to see the memorial list for the "Royston Grange". I was in the engine room about 1963 - 1965. I thought she was a very pretty ship and enjoyed my time on board her, I'm hoping that none of the people I knew were involved with the accident, chances are good given the amount of time between my time and the accident. Thinking particularly of the chief and second Engineers. I'd appreciate all you can do to help.
 

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Royston Grange article

Dave, are you sure the date is correct regarding Royston Grange article... May 2006 Ships Monthly as you have posted?

Daveyjones
 

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daveyjones said:
Dave, are you sure the date is correct regarding Royston Grange article... May 2006 Ships Monthly as you have posted?

Daveyjones
Daveyjones,

Indeed David is quite correct - it (the May 2006 copy) is on sale on 20th April, so I shall have to wait until then to see what sort of article it is. If it helps, the Ships Monthly site gives this write-up in it pre-publication advice:

Inferno at Sea
Victor Young describes how the British cargo vessel Royston Grange was engulfed by a fire storm when in collision with a laden tanker with disastrous results when underway close to the Argentinean coast on a foggy night in May 1972.
 

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Chris Stone said:
Hello Leo,

I would like to see the memorial list for the "Royston Grange". I was in the engine room about 1963 - 1965. I thought she was a very pretty ship and enjoyed my time on board her, I'm hoping that none of the people I knew were involved with the accident, chances are good given the amount of time between my time and the accident. Thinking particularly of the chief and second Engineers. I'd appreciate all you can do to help.
I would appreciate a crew list for the Royston Grange.I was on it for about a year in 1968/1969.best regards Robin Atkinson
 

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runnymederob said:
I would appreciate a crew list for the Royston Grange.I was on it for about a year in 1968/1969.best regards Robin Atkinson
Robin

Send me a P/M with your email address and I will pass it on to you. (i.e. the file is too large to post on here)
Kind regards
Tonga
 

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Tonga, and others, I am fimding this story about the "Royston Grange" more incredible as each post/story, goes on and on.
This frightful business would have to be the most awful disaster in peacetime that the company ever experienced.
I only found about it while I was looking for some info about those 2 beautiful Liners that were on the NY to Bermuda service in the 1930's.
I have a book at home about the Furness organization and would like to get down to the real, fairdinkum story about this frightful smashup.

I have seen the Argentine web site that shows the old newpaper
clips and an also pici of the burning ships.
There does not seem to be much around about this disaster.!!
 

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David,

The book you have is I suspect David Burrell’s excellent book – sadly it looks at the fleet from an FW point of view, so there is, by its very nature, little space for Houlders ships, but that is no criticism (it is after all actually entitled “Furness Withy 1891-1991).

Ian Norman, (posting on this thread above #13 ) has made a very worthwhile comment.

As for an even more detailed background, there is quite a lot of misinformed gossip about the disaster and inevitably, with the loss of the entire crew, there are huge gaps in our knowledge and therefore ability assess the actual cause of the collision, as well as the aftermath.

If you would like a more private comment, please feel free to send me a PM with your email address.

Kind regards
Tonga
 
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