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   xoxoxoBruce  Sunday Nov 16 01:18 AM

November 16, 2008: BadaBoom

BadaBoom, Big BadaBoom.

In 1944, on July 17 to be specific, munitions being loaded onto a ship in Port Chicago, California, (very close to San Francisco) detonated. No one knows what exactly caused the blast, but the damage was biblical. All in all, more than 5,000 tons of high explosives, plus whatever else was in the stores on the base and on any ships docked, was involved. The explosion was so massive it was felt as far away as Las Vegas (500 miles distant) and people were injured all over the Bay Area when windows were shattered by the immense pressure wave.
320 were killed immediately and almost 400 were seriously injured, but that’s not the real tragedy. Most of these men were African American and this single disaster accounted for almost 15% of African American casualties during that war.

Still fearing for their safety, the remaining men, who had just spent three weeks pulling the bodies of their fellow sailors from the wreckage, refused to load any further munitions. The Army, in a characteristic show of support, considered this an act of mutiny and court-martialed 208 sailors, sending an additional 50 to jail for 8 to 15 years.
Refusing a direct order, especially in war time, is something the military frowns on.
It shakes the very foundation of their organization... authority.

spudcon  Sunday Nov 16 01:46 AM

(snip)320 were killed immediately and almost 400 were seriously injured, but that’s not the real tragedy. Most of these men were African American and this single disaster accounted for almost 15% of African American casualties.(snip)
I imagine the families of those sailors that died weren't interested in that 15% figure. !00% of their husbands, fathers, and sons died. I'll also bet they didn't consider their ethnicity in their grief.

xoxoxoBruce  Sunday Nov 16 02:36 AM

True, but in the back of their minds, they knew the people killed were there because of their color. Even though the alternative, had they been allowed, would have been combat duty which isn't exactly safer.
I agree, however, it's only a footnote to this terrible tragedy.

amykins  Sunday Nov 16 04:00 AM

Whoa. That's definitely devastating for all involved. What a story... I think the next time SF area will look like that will be a reeeally devastating earthquake. (Any minute now...) And now I have The Fifth Element quotes running rampant through my head. Thanks Bruce!

bluecuracao  Sunday Nov 16 04:43 AM

The aftermath was horrible too, but at the very least it paved the way for desegregation of the armed forces.

Stupid that it takes bad situations to make things right. But even to this day, we've still got a ways to go.

StereoMike  Sunday Nov 16 06:06 PM

Halifax explosion from 1917. Wiped out a whole city (plus 18m tsunami after the explosion).

Biggest man-made and non-nuke explosion.


xoxoxoBruce  Sunday Nov 16 06:20 PM

Originally Posted by StereoMike View Post
Biggest man-made and non-nuke explosion.

Nope, it killed more people but was only 3,000 tons of boom, compared to 5,000 tons at Port Chicago.
It probably did more damage, and killed more people, because it was a crowded port city rather than a military facility, and in 1917 everything was made of wood. Bigger disaster but not the biggest boom.

busterb  Sunday Nov 16 08:31 PM

When I worked at Exxon refinery at Benicia, CA I took a shortcut by there each day.
A Naval station there now. BTW. The refinery had old ammo bunkers alll over it.

Gravdigr  Sunday Nov 16 09:39 PM

Funny, would there be that much concern for the black folk if they hadn't been blown to 'Kingdom Come'?

Hey!? Where's that guy that always climbs up my ass whenever I use the word 'black'? Or 'pimp'?

Stonan  Monday Nov 17 11:33 PM

I would think that the 1917 blast did more damage because it was in deeper water. The rebounding shock wave would be spread out more that if it was in shallow water (such as being dockside)

xoxoxoBruce  Monday Nov 17 11:59 PM

It was dockside. After the french abandoned ship, it drifted into the dock, setting it ablaze. The firefighters had just arrived to put out the dock fire, when the ship blew up.

WillieO  Tuesday Nov 18 10:33 PM

So the snively French are to blame? I Knew it!

TheMercenary  Tuesday Nov 18 10:57 PM

I feel a good natural disaster coming on. Who is next? seriously.

ZenGum  Wednesday Nov 19 12:51 AM

Yeah, it's been a while.

This could be a thread, like the celebrity death thread. All tip where, what kind of disaster, and death toll.

Out of the blue, I'm going to say, earthquake, South America under the Andes, mmmm Peru, 6,000 dead.

spudcon  Wednesday Nov 19 01:19 AM

I say Iran, at one of their nuke arsenals, before January 20th.

classicman  Wednesday Nov 19 10:03 AM

yeah while trying to launch it on a russian or chinese missile/rocket that fails.

classicman  Wednesday Nov 19 10:04 AM

Guess I'll have to take the Asian Tsunami - 28,634 dead.

ZenGum  Wednesday Nov 19 06:42 PM

Just from memory, I thought the tsunami (a) killed about 250,000, ten times your number, and (b) already happened, so is ineligible for the "next disaster tipping contest".

Carry on.

Clodfobble  Wednesday Nov 19 09:20 PM

San Francisco earthquake. 7,400 dead.

classicman  Wednesday Nov 19 09:56 PM

well allrighty then, I'll take another NATURAL disaster. Ice cap melts and kills you! There now you're dead and can't tell me I'm wrong. Pbblllttt!

ZenGum  Thursday Nov 20 12:03 AM

Ahh, but what caused the ice cap to melt. If it was anthropogenic, you're disqualified. Again. :p

HungLikeJesus  Thursday Nov 20 12:16 AM

What caused the ice to melt was about 144 Btu of heat input per pound of ice melted.

ZenGum  Thursday Nov 20 07:45 AM

Here's an interesting question. If all the ice-caps melt, ocean levels would rise by about 150 meters.

How many Dwellars' dwellings would that flood? Is your house under 150 meters (roughly 500 feet)? Mine is.

xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Nov 20 08:01 AM

We ain't afraid of no stinkin' meters.:p

Pico and ME  Thursday Nov 20 09:10 AM

Im gonna be like Lex Luther and start buying up properties that are just a bit off shore.

Undertoad  Thursday Nov 20 10:02 AM

27% of the Netherlands is below sea level.

/fun fact

Pico and ME  Thursday Nov 20 10:08 AM

Along with nearly 10 million of its citizens...:p

HungLikeJesus  Thursday Nov 20 10:36 AM

I'll be above water.


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