Wilmington, DE (Delaware River) Oil Tanker Collision, May 1952


Wilmington, Del., May 26 -- (AP) -- A gasoline-laden barge and a taner carrying crude oil collided in the rain-swept Delaware River last night. Both exploded and burst into flames. Two men were killed and eight others, including a father and son, were missing.
Of the 39 survivors -- the barge had a crew of nine and the tanker 40 -- only SJUR TELLEFSEN, a Norwegian now an American citizen living in Brooklyn, was accessible to tell what happened when the 10,441-ton tanker Michael and the 1,162-ton A. C. DODGE collided about 15 miles south of here shortly before midnight.
And the 29-year-old TELLEFSEN, speaking from his bed at Wilmington General Hospital, could throw no light on the exact cause of the third ship disaster in this area in the past 10 days. On May 15, two ships collided and burned in the nearby Chesapeake Canal, killing four men. Last week three men drowned when a freighter and tug smashed in the Delaware near Chester, Pa.
TELLEFSEN, the only survivor from the barge, said he was asleep when "I was jolted out of bed by the crash, I was very lucky to get out of my boat alive." He was treated for shock and slight burns.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it had no official version of the collision in one of the world's busiest waterways.
Among the missing were JOHN D. ELLIOTT, 60, captain of the Dodge, and his son, JOHN W., the second mate, both of Collingdale, Pa.
Others unaccounted for are CHARLES ROY, Brooklyn, chief engineer; JOHN HOLMES, Staten Island, first assistant engineer; crew-members RAY ANDERSON, New Haven, Conn; E. E. MOLLER, Brooklyn; MARTIN KLEAPE, Brooklyn and WILLIAM O'BRIEN, Long Island.
After the collision the Michael drifted to the New Jersey shore and ran up on a beach. The ship had a gaping hole at the water line of its starboard bow. Later it was pulled off a sandbar by tugs and proceeded up the river.
The Dodge was almost completely submerged off Augustine Beach near Ft. Penn, Del.

Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1952-05-27