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Remembering the Texas City Disaster

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posted on Apr, 16 2012 @ 10:55 PM
This is an old disaster, and I wonder how many here have even heard of it.

No, it's not the BP refinery explosion.

Think much older, like 65 years old.

I am referring to America's worst industrial accident.

Why am I posting on this topic now? Well for starters, today is the 65th anniversary of the explosion of the SS Grandcamp.

The history of that tragic day has been told many times. A French ship, the Grandcamp, was being loaded with ammonium nitrate on the waterfront. A fire broke out. The ship exploded. As firefighters tried to get the fires under control, another ship, the High Flyer, exploded.

Galveston Daily News article

This is also a very personal story for me as my grandfather is one of the people who was listed as "missing." This means that there was not enough left of him to identify with the technology at the time. His name is on a plaque at the Memorial site dedicated to those who lost their lives.

The following is one of the last photographs taken prior to the explosion:

It is entirely possible that one of the people in this photo is my grandfather as the story that has been handed down in our family is that he was last seen carrying a fire hose up the gangplank of the Grandcamp and was never seen again.

The above quote excerpt from the Daily News article is a necessarily shortened version.

A fuller account can be found at the following site:

Texas City Disaster April 16, 1947

The opening paragraph gives an indication of the seriousness of the situation:

The morning of 16 April 1947 dawned clear and crisp, cooled by a brisk north wind. Just before 8:00 A.M., longshoremen removed the hatch covers on Hold 4 of the French Liberty ship Grandcamp as they prepared to load the remainder of a consignment of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Some 2,300 tons were already onboard, 880 of which were in the lower part of Hold 4. The remainder of the ship's cargo consisted of large balls of sisal twine, peanuts, drilling equipment, tobacco, cotton, and a few cases of small ammunition. No special safety precautions were in focus at the time.

By contrast the Oklahoma City bombing was a a little over 2 1/2 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

The fire began somehow in the hold in which the bales of sisal twine were stowed and spread from there.

Around 9:00, flames erupted from the open hatch, with smoke variously described as "a pretty gold, yellow color" or as "orange smoke in the morning sunlight...beautiful to see." Twelve minutes later, the Grandcamp disintegrated in a prodigious explosion heard as far as 150 miles distant. A huge mushroom like cloud billowed more than 2,ooo feet into the morning air, the shockwave knocking two light planes flying overhead out of the sky. A thick curtain of steel shards scythed through workers along the docks and a crowd of curious onlookers who had gathered at the head of the slip at which the ship was moored. Blast over pressure and heat disintegrated the bodies of the firefighters and ship's crew still on board.

The explosion was detected on a seismograph in Denver Colorado (can't find the source, it's probably in a book my dad has about the explosion) and many people in the area thought a nuclear bomb had been detonated.

Suffice to say this was a tragic disaster, but where does the conspiracy angle come in, you may be wondering...

Well, I was doing some research at the local library for another thread, The Day Before Roswell, when I found a curious inconsistency.

I was looking at microfiche copies of the Texas City Sun (now defunct) for accounts of UFOs prior to the Roswell Incident when I noticed that the Dec 1946 - Mar 1947 reel was missing. Every other reel was present and numbered in consecutive order but the reel containing the dates listed above was not there.

The consignment of fertilizer was army surplus (again, I can't remember the source or readily find it online) and the story made world wide news easily eclipsing any other stories at the time, especially here in the states.

Perhaps this is purely illogical speculation, but I can imagine that this could have been devised as a way to remove the other stories from the front page of papers across the country that TPTB might not have wanted to be in the general public's awareness.

That or I've been spending too much time here in the forums.

What say you ATS?

posted on Sep, 11 2012 @ 05:59 PM
reply to post by jadedANDcynical

I remember reading about this disaster years ago and being just shocked at the size of the explosion that took place.
Not too sure about your conspiracy angle though, I think it was just mainly due to poor packaging and storage in the hold of the ship. Will have to take another look at it I think.

Sorry about your grandfather too, must be difficult to look at the pictures taken just before the explosion knowing that one of them may show him doing his duty, while at the same time probably knowing the explosive mixture that was smouldering right under his feet. Full respect to the man.

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