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MV Dromus (1938)


Dec 16, 2021

MV Dromus was a 1930s British oil tanker owned by Anglo-Saxon Petroleum,[1] a British subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. She was launched in September 1938 by Harland and Wolff at Belfast in Northern Ireland.[1] She was one of a class of 20 similar tankers built for Anglo-Saxon.[2]

British oil tanker

United Kingdom
Name Dromus
Owner Anglo-Saxon Petroleum[1]
Operator Royal Dutch Shell
Port of registry London[1]
Builder Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland[1]
Yard number 1009[2]
Launched September 1938[1]
Out of service 1962[2]
Fate Scrapped 1962 at Yokosuka, Japan[2]
General characteristics
Type Oil tanker[1]
Tonnage 12,063 GRT[1]
Displacement 8,036 tons[1]
Length 465.6 ft (141.9 m)[1]
Beam 59.5 ft (18.1 m)[1]
Draught 33.9 ft (10.3 m)[1]
Propulsion diesel[1]
Crew 37[3]

In 1951 Dromus suffered an explosion and fire that killed 22 of her crew and five oil terminal staff, after which she was extensively repaired. In 1958 she rescued 24 members of the crew of a British tanker that had been sunk by the CIA. Shell retired Dromus from service in 1962 and she was scrapped that year.

. . . MV Dromus (1938) . . .

In August 1951 Dromus was in Singapore, and on 18 August she took on a new crew for a voyage to the Philippines.[3] On the night of 19–20 August Dromus was loading at Wharf Number 6 of the oil terminal on the island of Pulau Bukom off Singapore.[4] During the process of topping up one of her forward tanks there was an overflow of oil from her foredeck and at about 1250 hrs[5] she suffered an explosion and fire[6] that took hold from her forecastle as far aft as her central superstructure.[5]

Dromus crew and Pulau Bukom’s fire-fighting squad fought the fire. DromusMaster, Henry Watkins had her stern mooring cables cut to help get her away from the wharf[6] and for more than an hour, efforts were made to distance Dromus from the oil terminal to prevent the fire from spreading.[4] Two Singapore Harbour Board fire-fightingtugs, Griper and Tarik, came to assist, along with five water-boats belonging to Hammer and Company based on Pulau Bukom.[5] The explosion woke hundreds of Shell employees living 1 mile (1.6 km) away.[5] They came to the terminal to help fight the fire, while their wives went to Singapore General Hospital to help to receive the injured.[5]

There was a second explosion about 20 minutes after the first, probably caused by Dromus flexible hose parting company.[6] Survivors leapt into the sea[6] and swam to safety under petrol that had spilled onto the water around the ship.[7] The fire worsened until about 0230 hrs.[5]

The disaster killed three European officers[8] and 22 Chinese and Malayans,[9] including the ship’s carpenter who was rescued but died in Singapore General Hospital of his injuries.[8][10] The hospital treated at least eight other injured, including two officers.[10] Two crew initially listed as missing were later found safe: late on the afternoon of 20 August Dromus terrified bosun and quartermaster were found sheltering behind bushes on the far side of Pulau Bukom, 1 mile (1.6 km) from the disaster scene.[3] Most of the dead were from Dromus crew, but five staff of the Pulau Bukom oil terminal were also among those killed.[10][11] It took days to find the bodies of some of the missing,[10] and 11 victims’ bodies were so badly injured that they were never identified.[6] For the first few days there was some confusion to the total number of dead and missing.[10]

Despite the explosion, Dromus still contained a cargo of 8,000 tons of benzene and 2,000 tons of fuel oil that survived the fire.[10] After the fire was put out and the ship made safe, the cargo was discharged at Pulau Bukom.[10]

. . . MV Dromus (1938) . . .

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. . . MV Dromus (1938) . . .