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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Gulfstag KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 3
source HOOKE
type D
volume
material gasoline, diesel oil, and naptha
dead 7
link

While on voyage from Port Arthur Texas to Tampa Florida, loaded with gasoline, diesel oil and naptha, the American turbo-electric tanked Gulfstag caught fire following two explosions in her engine room when in the Gulf of Mexico about 60 mi SW of Morgan City, LA, in lat 28.38N, long 91.45W during the early hours of Oct 24, 1966. Seven killed, three seriously burned. Burned for 40 hours, capsized. Refloated and sunk in deep water.


source USCG
type D
volume
material G
dead 8
link

According to USCG, Marine Board of Investigation official report, crew admitted there was some gasoline left in the aft pump room bilges. Further they had stopped the pump room fans for the night. OOW thought the first explosion was from aft pump room. USCG concluded something ignited the gas vapors in the pump room. Weather was calm, visibility good. Some recovered material indicates there was an explosion (possibly the second) in the engine room. In any event, the ship lost power and thus could not fight the fire.


source CTX
type D
volume 5.6MMG
material G
dead 8
link

NTSB agreed with USCG on most likely cause. But it is not at all clear what the source of ignition would be with the ship asleep and nobody in the pump room.

Another possibility is that the first explosion was in the ER where there are plenty of sources of ignition. One way this could happen is vapors leaking from the pump room. We simply don't know.

This casualty is an argument for the old Lloyds Register system of putting the emergency fire pump forward with its own prime mover. This was an LR requirement until the late-70's when inter-class competition forced Lloyds to go along with the other Classes and allow the emergency fire pump to be right beside the engine room where it gets taken out by the same fire that took out the normal fire pump(s).

Cutter puts spill at 5.6 MMG.

Ship was built in 1944 and jumboized in 1958.