Chesapeake-Delaware Canal, DE Tankers Collide, June 1953
MARCUS HOOK MAN DIES 82 SAVED IN FIERY TANKER CRASH ON DELAWARE RIVER.
8 LOCAL SEAMEN ARE AMONG THOSE TO BE RESCUED.
Two big tankers collided on the Delaware River 17 miles south of Wilmington early today, with one of the exploding and the other bursting into flames minutes after the impact.
The Red Cross listed JOSEPH DONNELLY, 45, of 220 Market Street, Marcus Hook, as the only man known dead. Eight other men from Delaware County and Claymont were among the survivors.
Three other seamen still were missing and another 40 were injured in the disaster, which involved a total of 86 men aboard the two ships.
One of the tankers, the empty 23,000 ton Phoenix, saialing from the Sinclair Refinery at Marcus Hook, exploded and split in two. The forward half of the vessel sank; the rear was grounded on the New Jersey side of the river, burning.
The other tanker, the Pan-Massachusetts, headed for the Atlantic Refining Co. in Philadelphia with 150,000 barrels of high-octane gasoline, caught fire and, after being abandoned by her crew, drifted downstream and settled on a sand-bar a mile from Elsinboro Point, N.J., where it burned furiously.
Both ships, oddly were owned by the National Bulk Carrier Co., of New York, and under lease to the oil companies.
Almost immediately after the collision and triple explosion, which was felt as far away as Wilmington, the water around the stricken vessels was covered with flaming gasoline. In spite of the danger, Coast Guard vessels and small craft from riverfront points as far from the explosion as Philadelphia responded to the rescue call and began taking burned and oil-soaked seamen from the water.
They were aided, on the shore, by ambulances and rescue wagons from Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, by the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Delaware & Maryland state police, and a host of volunteer workers from nearby areas.
The collision occurred in mid-channel at the point where the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal enters the Delaware River. The time of the collision was set at 12:15 a.m. by John Harrison, lookout aboard the Pan-Massachusetts. Harrison, whose home is in Mobile, Ala., said he had gone on watch at midnight and the collision happened 15 minutes later.
Chester Times Pennsylvania 1953-06-06