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In 1969 two Shell ships exploded within 15 days of each other

51 years ago two Shell ships exploded within 15 days of each other 

Extracted from page 06/412 and 06/413 of “A History of Royal Dutch Shell, volume 2” – Powering the Hydrocarbon Revolution, 1939-1973. 

(From page 06/412)

(From page 06/413)

Text from the same page.

On 14 December 1969, Marpessa, from Shell’s Antilles fleet, exploded during her maiden round voyage. Two Chinese Petty Officers were killed and the 207,000 dwt vessel, over 1,000 feet (328 metres) long, became the largest ship, civil or military, ever to sink. Fifteen days later her sister ship Mactra also blew up and killed two crew-members, but did not sink, and the following day a third VLCC – not a Shell ship, but of very similar design – exploded. All had been undertaking tank-cleaning operations at the time, and the ensuing two-year enquiry established the most probable cause as sparks accidentally generated in the tank’s gaseous atmosphere. The solution was to fill the tank with inner gas during cleaning.

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