“By Guess or by God:” Catastrophe In The Heart of the Sea

by Colin D. Dewey  In Nantucket, on Aug 5, 1819, the ship Essex: 87 feet at waterline, 238 tons, sailed.  The Essex, an old, tired, ship, began what was planned as a routine two or three year whaling voyage: and the story began the way sea stories have always begun: like Samuel Taylor Coleridge tells it in his Rime of the Ancient Mariner,  'The ship was … [Read more...]

Prestige Oil Spill Trial Wraps Up in Spain

Hearings in the trial over the 2002 Prestige oil spill, one of Europe's worst oil spills, wrapped up in Spain this week after eight months of testimony. The Prestige was a single-hulled Liberian-owned, Bahamas-flagged oil tanker, which sank off the coast of Galicia, Spain on November 19, 2002 after suffering from catastrophic hull failure. The resulting oil spill, estimated … [Read more...]

When A Ship Sinks, Is It Really ‘Women and Children First’?

Researchers from Sweden's Uppsala University have recently released some findings of a rather interesting study that dispel popular beliefs dating back to the Titanic about the anatomy of shipwreck survival. According to the study, titled "Every Man for Himself: Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters", researchers found that in the case of a maritime disaster the … [Read more...]

56 years After Gruesome Chemical Catastrophe, Science Prevented Second Texas City Disaster

In addition to authors Vicki Loe and CJ Beegle-Krause, Charlie Henry, Doug Helton, and Amy Merten contributed to this post, via NOAA Response and Restoration Blog: On a cool April morning in 1947, the S.S. Grandcamp sat docked in Texas City, waiting as it was loaded with sacks of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.  A few years earlier, this humble cargo ship had been part of the … [Read more...]

Ocean Ranger Disaster: 30 Year Anniversary

30 years ago today the Ocean Ranger, a semisubmersible drilling rig, sank during a vicious winter storm while drilling an exploration well off the coast of Newfoundland, killing all 84 crew members onboard. Considered the world's largest and most advanced oil rig of her time, the Ocean Ranger disaster left the industry puzzled and prompted hard look into how a disaster of … [Read more...]