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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Breakup and sinking of Texaco Oklahoma – March 27, 1971

Just came across this old news from this Bryant's Maritume News:
Breakup and sinking of Texaco Oklahoma – March 27, 1971
The SS Texaco Oklahoma broke in two after being hit by a freak wave in the North Atlantic on March 27, 1971. The forward section, including the navigation bridge, immediately lost all power. The forward section then collided  with the after section, destroying one of the two lifeboats rigged on the stern section, and subsequently sank, resulting in the death of thirteen mariners. The mariners in the stern section attempted to jury-rig a radio to send a distress message, but were unfamiliar with the process of sending Morse Code messages. High seas carried away the other lifeboat. When the stern section began to sink, the remaining mariners attempted to abandon ship in liferafts. A passing vessel found the survivors the next day. Of the 44 crew members on board when the tanker left Port Arthur for Boston, only thirteen survived. The casualty led to enhanced inspections of cargo tanks and improved methods of calculating hull stress. A memorial service, officiated by Father Sinclair of the Port Arthur Seafarers Center, was held in Port Arthur on March 27, 2011.
It is never too late to remember and record such a true happening that does not seemed to be widely known.  This article detailed the happening especially the results it caused but very little about the freaque wave itself -- just "being hit by a freak wave" and sadly only 13 of the 44 crew members survived, a major disaster for 31 families 42 years ago. I guess the communication was not as well developed as today. Does the Morse Code still required for mariners today?  At any rate today's technological advancement in communications should hopefully prevent this kind of tragic case from happening again.

9 comments:

Paula hopkins dayboch said...

Hello Freaque Wave, After reading your blog post, I felt compelled to comment as I am the daughter of Richard B. Hopkins, who was the Captain of the Texaco Oklahoma. Your comments are all exact, it was a very sad and tragic accident for many families, one mine has never recovered from. So many things were wrong it's no wonder so many lives were needlessly lost. Thank you for your thoughts and observations. I will be always proud of my father who was a most wonderful and dedicated man. He was only 41 when the tragedy occurred.

Donald Newsome said...

My Name is Donald Newsome I know this story oh so well because it plays a vital part in my life my Dad Vernice Newsome Sr was one of the thirteen survivors of the tanker and played a vital part in the life boat until rescued

Donald Newsome said...

My Name is Donald Newsome I know this story oh so well because it plays a vital part in my life my Dad Vernice Newsome Sr was one of the thirteen survivors of the tanker and played a vital part in the life boat until rescued

bbruderer@comcast.net said...

I was a young Coast Guard Ensign aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Rockaway at the time of the Texaco Oaklahoma breakup. We were in the area off Cape Hatteras and were on the scene shortly after the surviving crew on the tankers stern were recovered. I ran the Op Center that set up the search patterns and directed other ships and aircraft in the search. We searched for about 3 days, along with several other commercial vessels and 4 Texaco Tankers that responded to the distress. We had search patterns with a total of 7 vessels spaced 1 mile apart. A Coast Guard C-130 flew perpendicular to our search pattern. I learned that day just how vast the ocean can be and, in large swells, just how little you can actually see and find. We found one empty inflatible raft and a little other debris, but no survivors. I will never forget that search.

Mary Morgan said...

I heard all about this sad story, my dad Gard A Morgan was one of the two found in the water, By God's mercy.

Gary Meadows said...

Paula, My dad was sailing as 2nd Mate on this trip, even though he normally captained another Texaco Tanker. Our family suffered through this ordeal and like yours surely did, watched the NBC evening news as they covered the search for our fathers. As the week wore on, interest waned for ever finding more survivors. One evening late in the week, there was no mention of the Texaco Oklahoma and we were forced to face the crushing truth that our fathers and husbands were never coming home. I was 13 at the time and even today at 59 years old, I still occasionally dream that my dad comes home. Thank you for mentioning the Oklahoma and the lives lost and the lives spared. To Donald and Mary: I'm very thankful that your fathers made it home to you. I'm sure they were both scarred from this disaster.

Cindy Dy said...

So happy to be given a privilege to post a comment here. You have a wonderful site. Thank you for the effort to publish this.

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Mary Morgan said...

Am so sorry Gary for your lost, my Dad told me the story repetedly as a kid i couldn't get enough, he mention his work mates floating around him and just givin up, just could not take the cold no longer. He even mention taking socks of one to wipe the crude oil out of eyes after his passing begging him not to give up with the hopes the would soon be rescued. But the search was over as coastguard said no man could live in the water no longer, my dad was the last rescued from the sea but not by coastguard and nothing else was found. I pray that you find peace and some day you be reunited with your father in heaven.

Nathalie Uy said...


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