Author Topic: Whiddy Island Disaster, County Cork - 40 Year Anniversary  (Read 535 times)

Offline IRISH

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Whiddy Island Disaster, County Cork - 40 Year Anniversary
« on: January 08, 2019, 06:04:58 PM »
Today 8th January marks the 40th Anniversary of the Whiddy Island Disaster, the worst maritime disaster in Irish history.  The French crude oil tanker 'The Betelgeuse' exploded at a jetty just off the Island Oil terminal in Bantry Bay, County Cork killing 50 people (42 French, 8 Irish & 1 British). Only 27 of the 50 bodies were recovered. 1 Dutch diver also died in the salvage operation

Firefighters from all over County Cork responded. Fire Crews were hampered in their efforts to put out the fire as jetty collapsed following the explosion. Fire Operations were concentrated on the storage tanks and preventing the fire from spreading.  12 hours after the explosion the Betelgeuse sank which extinguished the main body of fire.It was 2 weeks later before Fire Crew could approach the wreck
 
Thoughts are with the families of those lost and the Emergency Crews who responded



Photo Copyright: Ian Vickery



Photo Copyright: Ian Vickery






Firefighters boarding Fishing Vessels to head to the Island


Some history on Whiddy Island....at the end of World War I Whiddy Island became the site for the US Navy. The US Navy Air Wing established a Sea Plane base on the eastern end if the Island

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Whiddy Island Disaster, County Cork - 40 Year Anniversary
« on: January 08, 2019, 06:04:58 PM »

Offline mack

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Re: Whiddy Island Disaster, County Cork - 40 Year Anniversary
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2019, 08:27:35 AM »


Dec (Irish) - Thanks for posting.  This was a tragic event and sad loss of 50 lives.  Some additional notes I read:

  - Whiddy Island was used by US Navy as a World War I sea plan base towards the end of the war.  There were about 5 planes stationed there.
  - The island was developed in the 1960s by Gulf as a deep water European crude oil reception port and had a relatively short period of successful operation.  "Just in time" shipping philosophy diminished the need to store large quantities of oil and more efficient shipping operations developed.  The Whiddy Island facility was not maintained properly prior to the tragedy.
  - The French tanker was in poor condition.  The crew was poorly trained.  Proper procedures were not used for unloading. 
  - The oil shipment from Saudi Arabia was originally to be unloaded in France but weather and port conditions changed the location to Whiddy Island.
  - There was poor firefighting equipment on the Island to address firefighting.  The Cork Fire Brigade did the best they could but had limited access to the island.


     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiddy_Island_disaster


     Sad - 50 lives lost. 
   

Offline IRISH

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Re: Whiddy Island Disaster, County Cork - 40 Year Anniversary
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2019, 05:44:12 PM »
Yes Mack terrible tragedy. Nowadays Cork County Fire & Rescue Service would still struggle to cope with an incident like that. Ive no doubt mutual aid would be needed from Kerry, Cork City and possibly Waterford. Dublin Fire Brigadeare the agency in Ireland that deal with Fires in Irish waters so crews would also be dispatched from Dublin with the help of the Irish Coast Guard Helicopters

I know from what i have read that alot of the Firefighters and Ambulance Crews who responded to this incident suffered post incident with what they saw

One of the sons of one of those lost spoke in the church of Ireland still not having corporate manslaughter laws in Ireland.

Whiddy Island now has a pump stationed on the Island which is staffed by Staff based on the island - an Ex Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service UK 1999 Dennis Sabre



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Offline raybrag

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Re: Whiddy Island Disaster, County Cork - 40 Year Anniversary
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2019, 07:58:37 PM »
Wow, Dec . . . dispatch from Dublin?  That's 350 km (218 miles), and about a 4 hour drive away! 
Ray Braguglia
Newport News VA