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Old 11-13-2013, 12:05 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,624
Default 48th anniversary of the sinking of The Yarmouth Castle.

The 48th anniversary of the sinking of The Yarmouth Castle. 70 lives lost. It is my favourite 'ship' song of Lightfoot's. My daughter studied it in English class in Grade 8 as part of the school curriculum. The Sinking of the SS Yarmouth Castle
The SS Yarmouth Castle was a steamship involved in an accident which resulted in the deaths of 90 people and prompted the creation of new laws regarding safety at sea. In 1964, the ship was purchased by Yarmouth Cruise Lines. The ship ran pleasure cruises on the 186-mile stretch between Miami and Nassau, the Bahamas. The ship was registered in Panama.

On November 12, 1965, Yarmouth Castle left Miami bound for Nassau with 376 passengers and 176 crewmen on board. Just before 1 a.m., a mattress that was stored too closely to a lighting circuit in a storage room caught on fire. Because the room was filled with mattresses and paint cans, the fire grew somewhat quickly.

After being notified of the fire, the captain ordered the second mate to sound the alarm on the ship's horn, but the bridge went up in flames before the alarm could be sounded. In addition, the ship's radio operator couldn't send off an alarm because the radio shack was completely on fire by the time he reached it.

The ship's fire alarms did not go off and the sprinkler system didn't activate. Passengers were awakened by the screaming and running of other passengers as people frantically attempted to find lifejackets.

The fire went through the ship's structure rapidly, driven by the ship's natural ventilation system. In addition, the flames rose vertically through the stairwells, fueled by wood paneling, wooden decks, and layers of paint on the walls.

To escape the burning ship, many passengers had to break windows and squeeze through portholes to exit their cabins. The front of the ship was quickly engulfed in flames which caused passengers and crew to flee to the stern of the ship. Some of the lifeboats burned before they could be launched. More problems ensued with the fire hoses. None of the ship's hoses had adequate water pressure to fight the fire. Crewmen also had difficulty launching the lifeboats as the ropes used to lower the boats were covered in paint which caused them to stick in the winches.

87 people went down with the ship and 3 of the rescued passengers died at hospitals. The majority of the bodies were lost with the ship while some were recovered.

The United States Coast Guard's investigations found that the ship lacked sprinklers in Room 610 where the fire started. In addition, mattresses had been stacked improperly close to the ceiling light. A month before the blaze, the paneling and ceiling had been removed which left the insulation exposed and allowed the fire to grow. There were also excessive layers of paint on the wall. In addition, some passengers had difficulty leaving their cabins because the clamps on the portholes had been painted over.

A mere three weeks before the fire, the ship had passed a safety check and fire drill. The ship did not need to conform to American safety regulations as it was registered in Panama.
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