On May 31, 1981 this ship -- which lacked IGS -- was at Port Arthur.
She had been lying idle for a week,
having discharged at Freeport two weeks earlier.
No attempt had been made to clean tanks or gas free
prior to entering a state of temporary lay up.
Following the explosion all the intact tanks were found
to be in the inflammable range -- with 10-20 percent oxygen present.
Fate had caught up with Monticello Victory
for the seeds of disaster had been present for seven years.
Back in 1974, a special 2.5 inch auxiliary bilge line
had been constructed to counter problems in disposing
of accumulated oily water in the engine room bilges
during prolonged periods in port and coastal waters.
This line enabled bilges to be pumped ashore
or into a cargo tank by means of a flexible hose.
It led from the bilge pumps though the engine room
bulkhead via the cargo pumproom, terminating
at a valved connection at the after end of the tank deck.
On arrival at Port Arthur, an attempt was made
to discharge the engine room bilges into No 11 Center tank,
using a flexible hose passed through an open
This atempt failed due to the badly corroded state
of the fixed auxiliary bilge discharge line in the engine room.
However the hose was left connected with its other end
either suspended in No 11 or lying ondeck very close to
the open Butterwork aperture.
The valve was left open allowing free flow of flammable vapour
from the cargo system to the engine room.
It was a recipe for disaster which lacked only a source of ignition.
This was provided a few days later,
when efforts were made to repair the auxiliary bilge line
in the engine room using cutting and welding equipment.
The flame front of the ignited gas travelled along the bilge line
at detonation velocity,
causing No 11 and successively, several adjacent tanks to erupt.