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Chapter 7

Ship Explosions:
USS Maine, SS Fort Stikine, SS Mont Blanc

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Smoke Cloud from USS Mont Blanc"The 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."

Photo Credit
Smoke cloud formed above the explosion of the SS Mont Blanc.
Nova Scotia Provincial Archives.