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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Bidwell KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 3
source www3.gen disaters.com
type A
volume
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dead 18
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While investigators scanned the hulk of the oil tanker BIDWELL, which blew up at Marcus Hook early yesterday, the death toll today was placed at eighteen with one missing and a woman and three men battling for their lives in Chester Hospital. The boat was shattered by four terrific blasts while lying in dock at Marcus Hook. Questioning of injured survivors, failed today to explain the tragedy. Most of the crew were asleep or on shore leave when the blasts tore open one side of the ship. The death list may mount today. OLAF RASMUSSEN, 32, of Forest City, Ia., is believed dying of his burns and injuries at the Chester Hospital, Chester. Others in the hospital, less seriously injured, are MRS. VIOLA RIVERS, of Jamaica, N.Y., wife of the captain; LERO McMAHON, 27, of Fostoria, Tex., and WILLIAM MAJOR, of Chester. Twelve dead were counted at the Chester morgue, and others were given up for lost and their names added to the gruesome list. After a systematic search of the hold of the steamship BIDWELL for four missing members of the tank cleaning gang proved futile, it is now believed the bodies of the men were burled into the river and drowned. Searching parties have been engaged by the Sun Oil Company to watch and grapple for the bodies. It is said by experienced rivermen that, owing to the cold weather, it may be some time before the bodies come to the surface. As searchers finally were able to board the ship which for hours had been a raging inferno, bodies of men charred beyond recognition were found. Still more bodies, blown into shapeless masses, were located aboard the ship of death. More victims, injured beyond recovery, died at hospitals. Sun Oil Company officials are at a loss to account for the cause of the blasts. In an effort to solve the mystery surrounding the origin of the first blast, which ignited the ship and led to the other explosions, a minute examination of the charred and warped debris of the steel vessel is now in progress. As the toll kept mounting hourly, officials still were unable to determine what mischance had set off the first devastating explosion at 12:20 a.m. That first blast, which turned what had been an ordinary boat into a scene of horror, was followed by three other blasts within twenty-five minutes. The countryside within a radius of twenty miles had been shaken and rocked. Thousands of sleeping persons were awakened and terrified. It "might have been" a spark which set off a gas pocket in the hold of the ship while the tanks were being cleaned of the residue of crude oil -- which had been brought from Texas and unloaded Tuesday -- so that gasoline could be put into them, some investigators said.


source www.fleetsheet.com
type A
volume
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dead 17
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During the night Feb. 4,1932 at 12:30 am. the M.S. Bidwell an oil tanker belonging to the Sun Oil Company In Marcus Hook, Pa. exploded and burned at the Sinclair Dock. Seventeen men aboard were killed including the Captain, Joseph Rivers of Hollis, New York. His wife Viola Rivers aboard at the time was injured and rescued from the frigid waters of the Delaware River by Edward J. Cartain of Chester who swam to her rescue. He was employed at Sinclair Refining and subsequently awarded the Carnegie medal for heroism. The Captain's Wife Viola Rivers, was treated at Chester Hospital and subsequently relocated to Chester. Several of the deceased were from Chester, others from Linwood, Pa. and Philadelphia. A little known fact is that the second mate, 33 years of age from New York, was the natural father of Veronica Lake the hollywood actress. The last Master was Captain Fredrick Burgess. Two sons of the late Captain Rivers, both served on the Bidwell as merchant seamen before its demise.


source CTX
type C
volume
material
dead 18
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The Bidwell survived. She was torpedoed 1942-04-06 LOADED 30 miles east of Cape Lookout by the U-160. but managed to reach Hampton Roads under her own power. One man of her 33-man crew was lost in the torpedoing. It is quite possible that her IG system saved her (see below). She ended up being scrapped in 1965 at age 45. Tough ship.

This is a very important tanker casualty for it induced Sun Oil to develop cargo tank inerting and install it on all their ships from 1933 on. They discovered that a by-product was a very sharp reduction in corrosion.

Inerting is the most important tanker safety measure ever. Despite this it was not until 1976 and the Sansinina explosion in Los Angeles that the USA required inerting, and then only on tankers larger than 20,000 dwt. And it was not until 1984 that IMO required inerting, and that requirement was limited mainly to tankers of 40,000 dwt or more. To this day, there are tankers of the Bidwell's size for which inerting is not required.