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Maine, SS Fort Stikine, SS Mont Blanc
French ship SS Mont Blanc had sailed from New York City
to Halifax to join an assembling convoy but
arrived 5 December after the antisubmarine nets closing Halifax Harbor
at night had been raised, and she necessarily waited at anchorage to enter
the harbor until 7:30 the morning of 6 December. Mont
Blanc was a munitions carrier. Her cargo holds were lined with
wood affixed to framing with copper nails, which could not spark if struck by
steel, but an hour later when the Mont Blanc collided bows-on in the harbor
with the Norwegian cargo ship in ballast, the SS Imo, although her bow was
only moderately gashed, barrels of highly inflammable liquid benzene stored
on her forward deck were ruptured, and the flow of benzene from those
ruptured barrels was ignited by the spectacular cascading barrages of sparks
generated as the ships' steel bows ground together. A raging fire that could
not possibly be extinguished immediately engulfed the bow of the Mont Blanc."
Smoke cloud formed above the
explosion of the SS Mont Blanc.
Nova Scotia Provincial Archives.