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Torrey Canyon - 40 years on

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Torrey Canyon - 40 years on

Old 25th Dec 2022, 20:28
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I was there! At the time of the wreck, I was on the Dartmouth Training Squadron minesweeper, HMS Brierley, in the Channel Islands. We received a signal to proceed with all dispatch to Falmouth, where we loaded spraying booms and a large number of 50-gall drums of detergent. The next 10 days were spent in very rough seas spraying Fairy Liquid onto rafts of brown, foul-smelling oil and throwing up over the stern.

We were replaced by the other half of the course two days before the Buc attacks! Damn!

Mog
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 21:20
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My logbook records that on 21 March 1967 I flew a sortie as Nav Rad in a Victor B(SR)2 of 543 Sqn where we did a sidescan radar sweep of the Channel to find out how far the oil from the Torrey Canyon had spread. From what I remember- it was nearly 56 years ago - it was reasonably successful, as the oil slick didn't show the usual returns that a rough sea did. When I joined the Buccaneer force a few years later, there were still people around who had taken part in the bombing of the Torrey Canyon.

-- Tim L


Last edited by TimL; 26th Dec 2022 at 08:46.
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 22:39
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Sorry all , I didn’t realise there’s an existing thread.
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Old 26th Dec 2022, 00:36
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I remember reading somewhere that it took so long to make the decision that all the light fractions had gassed off before the bombing started which made it an almost impossible task to set fire to the remaining oil
A liquid in and of itself does not burn, it has to be heated to the point where it vapourises and it is that which burns. That's why you can stand in a pool of Jet A and drop lit matches to your hearts content.
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Old 26th Dec 2022, 10:26
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NEO, I wonder if he oil pollution you witnessed in Pagham was more likely from another tanker disaster, the Pacific Glory which sank off the Isle of Wight in 1970. I was an active sailor in Poole around the time of the Torry Canyon and I don't remember any oil pollution that far east.
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Old 26th Dec 2022, 13:40
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Originally Posted by pulse1
NEO, I wonder if he oil pollution you witnessed in Pagham was more likely from another tanker disaster, the Pacific Glory which sank off the Isle of Wight in 1970. I was an active sailor in Poole around the time of the Torry Canyon and I don't remember any oil pollution that far east.
To be honest I was at the age of going out with my mates on my bike, helping my Dad with the gardening, playing conkers etc. So you may well be right. Whichever spill caused the damage, that stretch of coast has never recovered.

NEO
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Old 26th Dec 2022, 17:20
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Originally Posted by Mogwi
I was there! At the time of the wreck, I was on the Dartmouth Training Squadron minesweeper, HMS Brierley, in the Channel Islands. We received a signal to proceed with all dispatch to Falmouth, where we loaded spraying booms and a large number of 50-gall drums of detergent. The next 10 days were spent in very rough seas spraying Fairy Liquid onto rafts of brown, foul-smelling oil and throwing up over the stern.

We were replaced by the other half of the course two days before the Buc attacks! Damn!

Mog
Ah, a lovely little ship in rough seas! That's why she was an INSHORE Minesweeper!




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Old 27th Dec 2022, 14:34
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Saw an after dinner talk by Blaster Bates many moons ago. His take on the disaster was that you had to vapourize the oil first. "Just use a couple of tons of Thermite and Magnesium". "Touch that off and you will get rid of the oil, the ship and the bloody rock it hit in the first place".
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Old 27th Dec 2022, 14:46
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About 12 years ago, I was surprised to come across, on a walk on the west coast of Guernsey, a small quarry, surrounded by fences and warming signs, still with the oil from the Torrey Canyon in it.
I believe that, since then, they have successfully got rid of a lot of that remaining oil by using a bacteria that eats it.
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Old 29th Dec 2022, 13:58
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Originally Posted by treadigraph
Living in Penzance as I was then (aged 3) I think we went to watch some of the bombing from up on the cliffs near Sennen or somewhere though I don't recall it other than in the vaguest haziest way which may be false memory. However my elder brother who must have been 9 or 10 seems to recalls it in something I saw he'd written on a Web page. Must ask him...
My brother says we didn't see Torrey Canyon itself as it was out of sight but he does mention smoke. My eldest sister (then about 14) is quite definite that we went up to the cliffs to view and saw smoke though she doesn't recall which of we five kids were there - I think my recollection is accurate though presumably we may have seen the aftermath rather than any bomb dropping. My dad would have been quite keen to witness anything to do with flying though!
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Old 29th Dec 2022, 19:36
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I was at school at Bearsden Academy, Glasgow, the Buccaneer flight from Lossiemouth coincided with a break, and we were in the playground when they went over, in a clear blue sky... they were high, with long contrails.
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Old 2nd Jan 2023, 18:57
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Originally Posted by cura
This thread has triggered some memories and thoughts.
I remember meeting a guy who did a lot of diving on the Torrey Canyon.
He gave me a copy of a video which he was in that was shot in the late 80's so some 20years on from its sinking, it was all bravado, chopper out of LEQ, cut to wreck etc but great to watch like a boys own thing.
Coincidence is 2 weeks ago i was at a gathering and i heard that he had recently passed, some accident somewhere.
I will try to get more details, and dig the video out.
Found it lurking in a box in the loft, its VHS video, with a handwritten sticker on it saying -
1 .Torrey +20y
2. Torrey +30y
3. St Chamond and the french trains
4. SS Nile
5. HMS Moldavia
6. SS Mendi
7. The Shirala
8. HMS Hood Portland one
9. Aeolean Sky, sinking & after
10. Hands Deeps

I no longer have a VHS cassette player to watch it but i am now wondering whether the cassette could be of some historical significance (only as there are 2 HMS' mentioned).
I will drop into the local photo shop and see if they can do anything with it.
Any thoughts on who or what to do next would be appreciated.
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Old 3rd Jan 2023, 20:44
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Originally Posted by Impiger
As I recall (I was only a nipper so didn't understand) there was a bit of a hullabaloo because at this time the good old Ministry were denying we had napalm in the inventory - it had received a bit of a bad press in SE Asia IIRC. The PC solution was to rename the weapons 'fire bombs' ! Don't think it fooled anyone tho'.

Overall a job well done.
Reading The Bomber Command War Diaries and surprised to find Mosquitos dropping napalm in 44/45.
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Old 4th Jan 2023, 00:40
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denying we had napalm in the inventory - it had received a bit of a bad press in SE Asia
Reverted to using SAS's mates and their Chinooks dropping nets full of 44 gallon drums full of POL which were then lit up by adroit use of weapons.
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Old 4th Jan 2023, 08:11
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I was at West Raynham at the time and remember mixing napalm in drums. Burning the unused mixture was much more fun.
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Old 4th Jan 2023, 09:57
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I was at St. Mawgan heading down the hill and wondered why a Hunter kept doing circuits, it turned out to be several aircraft arriving. The next day, alongside a line of Hunters parked on the end of the old 26/08 runway, I saw 45 gallon drums being stirred and was told it was Napalm being made.
From the radar section it was possible to see aircraft running in to drop ordnance, they showed up clearly on the bays ASV21.
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Old 4th Jan 2023, 14:34
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Originally Posted by megan
Reverted to using SAS's mates and their Chinooks dropping nets full of 44 gallon drums full of POL which were then lit up by adroit use of weapons.

Megan....please do not remind me of that bit of Command silliness from back in those days of fun and games.

A group of us were ordered to attend a Classified Briefing at our Battalion HQ to discover the "Secret Mission" was to burn down War Zone C using the method you allude to in your post.

My unit was to provide Ten Chinooks all equipped with Drum Rails that normally were used for dropping Drums of Tear Gas but this time it would be mixed drums of Napalm and others with standard POL (diesel and petrol).

Method would be the Chinooks making like Circus Elephants on parade at 300 feet AGL with sufficient spacing that each could come to a hover and roll its load of drums onto a single spot and thus build a pile of about two hundred barrels which would then be ignited by Huey gunships.

Of course the Colonel in the C&C helicopter would garner his Legion of Merit or some other array of Gongs following the destruction of War Zone C.

His Nibbs ignored the fact that a Vietnam Jungle area was not the same as tinder dry forest areas in the Pacific Northwest and there was no chance in hell that we could start such a fire as envisioned.

When we mere Chinook Pilots suggested the last aircraft in line use a free hand M-60 machine-gun shooting all tracer and the door gunners lobbing several White Phosphorus Hand Grenades onto the pile....we were rudely informed that shooting up things was the Gunships meat and taters.

Mind you 300 feet and 60 knots in a long line of Chinooks over some very unfriendly folks is not a way to grow old not make this a very desirable task.

We did the our job...dropped the barrels of petroleum...and the gun ships despite the half dozen smoke grenades we did throw naturally failed to hit the new cache of fuel we nicely airdropped for the NVA/VC despite expending all of their Rockets and 7.62 Ammo..

The Colonel did not allow a Debrief and failed to gather a row of Gongs for his wearing thereof.

Fortunately, the bad guys were probably so in disbelief at what they saw passing over them never fired a shot and missed a wonderful opportunity.

Sadly, about six months later....with a new Battalion Commander we were invited to carry out "How Not To Set Fire To War Zone C 2.0"....which resulted in a near mutiny before the new Colonel elected to save face and called it off.
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