[In August 1972]...two Liberian-flag supertankers, the 95,000-ton American-owned
Oswego-guardian, fully laden, collided with the 100,000-ton Greek-owned
Texanita northeast of Cape Town in the Indian ocean. The Texanita, which
was empty, exploded with such violence that it rocked buildings and woke
people forty miles inland from the coast, which itself was twenty-three
miles distant from the accident. The Texanita broke in two and vanished
within four minutes. Thirty-three men died with the Texanita, and one aboard
the Oswego guardian. Both ships were travelling at high speed through fog
so dense that the master of the Texanita, who survived, couldn't see the
masts of his own ship; although they had observed each other on radar,
neither ship reduced speed. Texanita made only two attempts to plot the
course of the approaching ship, the second when it was only four miles
off, and the Oswego Guardian made no attempt whatever to plot the course
of the other ship.
The chief officer of a Norwegian freighter, the Thorswave, later provided
what might be the first electronic eyewitness account of a major maritime
disaster. His own ship was in the vicinity and had watched the accident
develop on his radar screen. 'I saw these two dots coming closer together
together,' he told the Cape Argus in Cape Town. 'Then the two dots came
into one. just then we heard this terrific explosion and felt our own ship
shake twice. I thought there was something wrong with our own ship because
the explosion was so loud. A minute or two after this I saw two dots coming
away from each other. Then one dot suddenly disappeared from the screen.'
Immediately after the collision, the master of the Oswego Guardian ordered
his ship at full speed away from the scene.
Noel Mostert_Supership_1974, at 61-62.