Montreal, QB Freighter Explosion, Sep 1965


Montreal (UPI) -- A mysterious explosion and fire foundered the 7,900-ton freighter FORT WILLIAM, the most modern in service in the Great Lakes system at her Montreal Harbor pier Tuesday, trapping five members of her 21-man crew. They were believed dead.
Sixteen crew members, including CAPT. SAMUEL WILKINSON, escaped, most of them through the wheelhouse, when the explosion ripped the $6 million vessel at 4:32 a.m. EDT, shortly after berthing. Some leaped into the St. Lawrence River.
At least three were slightly injured.
WILKINSON was trapped in his cabin and was too big to be pulled through a porthole. He crouched on a bookcase above rising water while crewmen hacked their way in to rescue him.
The Government Transport Department ordered an investigation of the tragedy, which hurled the 488-foot FORT WILLIAM on her side so that her masts were crushed by the pier. Firefighters were still fighting the blaze 10 hours after the explosion.
Officials said investigators would look into the possibility of sabotage, among other possible causes for the explosion. WILKINSON was quoted as saying the ship was carrying general cargo of crude oil, chemicals and steel which included nothing of a highly volatile nature.
A department of transport spokesman in Ottawa said the ship carried a quantity of carbide.
The owner of the ship was the Canada Steamship Lines.

Anderson Herald Indiana 1965-09-15