The Halifax Explosion
SS Stella Maris and the Cape Island Connections
"On the morning of December 6, 1917 two ships, one fully loaded with explosives, collided in Halifax Harbour. The result was a fire on SS Mont Blanc which led to the largest non-nuclear explosion in history. A whole section of Halifax was destroyed, almost 2,000 people died and thousands were left homeless. The following looks at a small slice of the events of that day 100 years ago. The focus is on the crew of the salvage tug Stella Maris. There is no surviving list of those on board that day however testimony was given that there were 24 in total, eleven crew and about 13 "dry-dock men". It has been generally accepted that only 5 of the 24 survived."--From the Preface.
"Stella Maris was built in Poplar, England in 1882. The vessel was 124.5 feet (37.9 m) long, 23.6 feet (7.2 m) wide, and 12.2 feet (3.7 m) deep, and had a tonnage of 229. It was powered by steam. Formerly employed as an English gunboat and minesweeper, by 1917 it had been converted into a tugboat and purchased by Halifax Trading & Sealing Co. On 6 December 1917, Stella Maris, with Captain Horatio Harris Brannen and 23 others aboard, was towing two scows near mid-channel in the Narrows of Halifax Harbour leading into Bedford Basin. Shortly before the explosion, the tug narrowly avoided being hit by SS Imo, which then collided with Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship. The collision started a fire on Mont Blanc, forcing the crew to evacuate. The burning ship then began drifting towards Halifax's Pier 6 on the western shore. After a failed attempt to get close to the French ship, Stella Maris's crew were in the process of retrieving a ten-inch hawser from the hold to assist a party of volunteers from HMCS Niobe's steam pinnace in securing a line to Mont Blanc. They wanted to pull the French vessel away from the pier to prevent it from catching fire. Before this could be done, the explosion occurred. Stella Maris was severely damaged; 19 men were killed, including Captain Brannen. The tug was salvaged and rebuilt for service in the First World War"--From wikipedia.org website.
[Ottawa, Ont. : B. Brannen,], 2017
Branch Call Number:
iv, 40 p. : ill. ; 29 cm