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Precis File
SHIP NAME: British Crown KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 4
source HOOKE
type A
volume
material
dead 19
link

18 crew members and a mooring supervisor were killed when the British steam tanker British Crown caught fire in her engine room and violently exploded at Umm Said, Qatar, on August 20, 1966, while almost fully loaded with crude oil for Kwinana. A total of 41 survivors were winched to safety by helicopter from their vessel which was burning from stem to stern. Eight crew members were seriously hurt and a further 10 received minor injuries. The following day, still burning furiously, the British Crown was towed from her loading berth and beached two miles away, the fire finally being extinguished on October 25th. The forepart of the abandoned hulk was later reported to have been sunk.


source Unknown Newspaper
type A
volume
material
dead 19
link

Tanker Disaster Seaman 'Saved Lives of Crew' John Petty, Shipping Correspondent

The "amazing courage and coolness" of an Indian seaman was described in London yesterday, when the investigation begain into an explosion which destroyed the BP tanker, British Crown, 28,572 tons, killing 19 men including 12 of the 17 officers. The inquiry, ordered by the Board of Trade, is expected to laast a week, but it is unlikely to establish the cause of the disaster.

There are 10 different possibilities, and the Wreck Commissioner, Mr. J. F. Willmer, Q.C. will be asked to consider several recommendations to improve safety in tankers.

Mr. G. K. Beattie, for the Board of Trade, said the explosion was on Aug. 20 last year when the British Crown had nearly completed load 25,500 tons of curde oil at Umm Said in the Persian Gulf. Suddenly there was a rending explosion and a terrific fire. "There was little anyone could do except get off the ship as soon as possible. The Captain and Chief Officer had to leap into the sea from the bridge." Mr. Beattie said.

An Indian donkeyman, Abdul Karim Dawood, 44, went up on the deck from the boiler room, and saw fire everywhere and his crewmates jumping over the side. But he went back to the boiler room.

There, he systematically shut down the machinery to prevent another explosion, which might have destroyed the boilers, and killed men already in the sea. He stood by the engines until they were safe, then he cut a path with a fire extinguisher to get back on deck.

On the way back, he met an elderly seaman, Abbass Nooroodeen, 55, who could not swim. Dawood helped him down a rope and supported him until Mr. J. M. Easton, a junior engineer, swam up to help.

The British Crown burned for more than two months after being beached. The explosions came five minutes before loading was to have ended.


source SN
type C
volume 23,000KL
material
dead 19
link

Several ex-BP officers believe the cause was a spark from an A/C motor while loading. Here's one quote. The faulty A/C unit was in the officers' smokeroom at the after end of the centre castle. This room was sometimes used as the office during loading and unloading as it exited straight out at the flying bridge level. When loading tanks 5 and 6 across, gas could accumulate in this area. Another contribution to Ships Nostalgia by a retired BP tankerman says the "suspicion was that midships vent fans ignited gas as she was topped off".

The discussion among ex-crew makes it clear that not only was the ship not inerted, but the gauze flame screens were rarely effective during loading as the venting blew them off. The discussion makes it clear, this was not an engine room fire. The core of the fire was on the starboard aft side of the forward house, which melted right down to the deck.


source CTX
type C
volume 23,000KL
material
dead 19
link

Ship was 18,545 grt, so fully loaded would be about 30,000 tons. Burned for over two months, must have lost most of her cargo. A wild guess at the loss is 20,000 tons. SN posts indicates that 12,000 tons was recovered on board.

IGS could have made a big difference. BP was working on IG. It had installed one as early as 1961. Starting in 1963 BP installed IGS on all new crude carriers, as a corrosion control method. The program was not extended to existing ships.