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Dec. 6th, 1917. The Halifax Explosion.

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posted on Dec, 6 2017 @ 12:29 PM
Halifax is my hometown. This indecent is quite well known to many in Canada and definitely in Nova Scotia. Halifax has one of the deepest harbours on the east coast enabling large ships to be serviced and stocked. It was the perfect city for military preparation.

Halifax was a busy, wartime port city in 1917. The First World War had been underway for three years, exposing Canadian servicemen to injury, death and hardship, but bringing prosperity to Halifax. After decades of hard economic times, the city was a hub of Canada's war effort. With one of the finest and deepest ice-free harbours in North America, Halifax was the port through which tens of thousands of Canadian, British Empire and American troops passed on their way to the battlefields of Europe, or on their way home.

The city’s population of nearly 50,000 was swollen by the influx of troops, and by Canadian and British naval officials supervising activity in the port. Millions of tonnes of supplies also passed through the port, en route to the war — wheat, lumber, coal, food, munitions and armaments — arriving by rail and departing on ships. The harbour was not only home to Canada's fledgling Royal Canadian Navy, but was also a base for Royal Navy vessels and merchant ships from around the world, needing repair or resupply.

The economic boon to Halifax over the course of the War was offset on this date 100 years ago when the Norwegian vessel Imo, which was picking up relief supplies for Belgium collided with a French munitions ship the Mont Blanc "filled with tons of benzol, the high explosive picric acid, TNT and gun cotton". Several navigational errors led to the outgoing Imo to collide with the incoming Mont Blanc.

After a series of whistles and miscommunications between the officers and pilots on the two ships, and failed manoeuvres to avoid a collision, the Imo struck the starboard bow of the Mont-Blanc. After a few moments the two ships parted, leaving a gash in Mont-Blanc's hull and generating sparks that ignited volatile grains of dry picric acid, stored below its decks.

It wasn't like a Hollywood movie where things automatically go BOOM.

For nearly 20 minutes the Mont-Blanc burned. The fire encompassed burning drums of benzol, a form of gasoline, on the ship's top deck, sending a huge plume of black smoke into the sky.


The Mont-Blanc exploded at 9:04:35 a.m., sending out a shock wave in all directions, followed by a tsunami that washed violently over the Halifax and Dartmouth shores. More than 2.5 square km of Richmond were totally levelled, either by the blast, the tsunami, or the structure fires caused when buildings collapsed inward on lanterns, stoves and furnaces.

Homes, offices, churches, factories, vessels (including the Mont-Blanc), the railway station and freight yards — and hundreds of people in the immediate area — were obliterated. Farther from the epicentre, Citadel Hill deflected shock waves away from the south and west ends of Halifax, where shattered windows and displaced doors were the predominant damage.

The blast shattered windows in Truro, 100 km away, and was heard in Prince Edward Island. The crew of the fishing boat Wave, working off the coast of Massachusetts, even claimed to have heard the boom rumbling across the ocean.

Here's some pics common to Nova Scotians:

It's said that it was the largest man made explosion until the Hiroshima bomb. The human toll was 2000 killed, 9000 maimed and 25,000 left homeless. Halifax in Dec. can be damn nasty. Damp, cold, windy and probably snowy. More may have succumbed to the elements.

This vignette has been playing here for a few decades. It kind of gives you an idea of peoples reaction at the time.

Further info says that Vince Colman did die in the explosion but the train was spared because it was running late. Not due to Vince's efforts.

A sad day in Halixax's history and it's still well remembered today.

posted on Dec, 6 2017 @ 01:37 PM
Very similar event happened in texas in 1947. Hard to imagine the amount of potential energy that can be in one boat. Both events were said to have more explosive power than nagasaki being nuked in world war 2.

posted on Dec, 6 2017 @ 01:46 PM
a reply to: intrepid

Surprised this didn't get more attention. Accidents along similar liens have happened in other theaters during wartime.

The cause was a little different, ships loaded with ammonia nitrate and ammunition caught fire and exploded throwing a huge clid of aerosolized ammonia nitrate int the sky which then detonated.

The last time they carried both together in one ships hold.

Picric acid was blamed for the explosion in Halifax. The ships hold of picric caught fire and detonated later inside the hold.

The damage from both incidents looks the same, though...

Texas city disaster aftermath

Edit: Oh, someone beat me to it.
edit on 6-12-2017 by intrptr because: edit:

posted on Dec, 6 2017 @ 02:15 PM

posted on Dec, 6 2017 @ 02:45 PM
Hats off to Intrepid folks as this is a great thread on the day before the 76th anniversary of the Day of Infamy. It is as one might say almost perfect timing but please excuse my sarcasm. My best,

posted on Dec, 6 2017 @ 02:48 PM
a reply to: airforce47

I never even thought of that but I'm not American. No offense was intended.

posted on Apr, 15 2018 @ 11:20 PM
a reply to: airforce47

I think you're off kilter on this. A man made mountain of Ammonium Nitrate, detonated in Germany after WWI ended. The Germans were using chipped off slabs to make fertilizer. One day, someone used a little too much dynamite to break a slab loose, KABOOM. This was estimated at 1 Megaton. Today the site is a shallow lake.

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