Skip to comments.71 years later, Texas City remembers 1947 ship disaster
Posted on 04/16/2018 8:26:19 AM PDT by BBell
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Monday marks the anniversary of the 1947 Texas City ship disaster. On Saturday evening survivors met in Texas City to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the disaster in a somber memorial.
On April 16th, 1947, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions to have ever occurred rocked the Texas City port, killing hundreds of people including 28 members of the Texas City Fire Department.
It all started shortly after 8 a.m. that day, when longshoremen noticed smoke in the hold of the S.S. Grandcamp.
The Texas City Volunteer Fire Department was called but the fire continued to grow, and the hold of the ship continued to get hotter.
The fire sent billowing smoke across the city. A crowd gathered at the docks to watch firefighters battle the huge blaze.
At 9:12 a.m., the ammonium nitrate detonated, sending a massive fireball hundreds of feet into the air. The explosion caused a 15-foot wave that crashed onto the docks and flooded surrounding areas. Windows shattered as far away as Houston, and vibrations from the blast registered on a seismograph in Denver, Colorado. A barge anchored in port was blown out of the water and landed 110 feet away.
(Excerpt) Read more at abc13.com ...
I think the explosion of the Alum Chine in Baltimore was worse. She was carrying a cargo of dynamite.
Lots of whom were spectators that were drawn to watch the efforts to control the overheating ammonium nitrate before it blew.
The Halifax Explosion was worse. 2,000 dead and 8,000 wounded. TNT and picric acid, the highly flammable fuel benzole, and guncotton.
Halifax was the largest non nuclear explosion for sure, but this ship in Texas is real bad too. It’s tragic to think that people came out to watch only to get taken out in the blast.
According to one report, that was only 350 tons of dynamite:
The Halifax explosion of 6 Dec 1917 involved about 3000 tons of explosives, history’s largest non-nuclear explosion prior to the Texas City explosion.
Oklahoma City explosive was an ANFO (Ammonium nitrate, Fuel Oil) mix of AN, nitromethane and diesel fuel. Technically, AN is not an explosive but is considered an oxidizer. Unless AN is contained or confined (like a cargo hold) it will burn, an not explode.
Here is the DOT warning sign for AN:
Note the flame with the big O. That is the indication of an oxidizer.
Tunguska, Vesuvius, Mt St Helens, MOABs, many volcanoes from millions of years ago put all of those to shame, etc etc etc...
you left out Krakatoa and Mt. Pinatubo
The prop from another ship was blown about a mile away.
I grew up in Texas City in the 50's and 60's and it was fairly common to have to leave town after explosions in the plants. We had gas leaks and explosions also at places like BP. Carbide had a fairly substantial explosion also.
It went with the territory. Most people there graduated from school and went to the plants to have a decent life not found elsewhere. I left in order to live. Hurricanes were also a problem there.
I worked at the site of this explosion for 5 years (1988-1992). Entering the front gate, I used to walk past a large memorial that had the 500+ names. Never once did I pass it without thinking about the importance of being safe in what I was doing.
In my first year there, our neighbor, Marathon refinery, had a fire. It was raining at the time, so... I grabbed my raincoat and headed out to take a look. As I walked through the control room, I passed one of our most senior operators, who... while tweaking a valve setting ask, "Where ya headed?".
I replied, "I heard Marathon has some kind of fire. Thought I'd go take a look".
Without looking away from what he was doing he responded, "Suit yourself... Course ya know, most of those people who died back in '47 were 'just looking'".
I paused, turned around, and said... "On second thought, I think I have some work in my office".
He dryly responded, "Suit yourself".
I grew up in Baltimore before it got bad and never heard of this.
Worst industrial accident in USA to this date
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