40th Anniversary of the HMCS Kootenay Explosion

In Halifax today, the Navy is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Canadian destroyer HMCS Kootenay engineroom explosion, killing 9 men and injuring 53.

The subsequent fire was hot enough to melt the aluminum stairs and railings. Smoke and flames blocked access to the firefighting equipment and equipment sent from the HMCS Bonaventure was used to fight the fire.

The cause of the explosion was a bearing installed backwards in the gearbox, which stopped the lubrication and caused overheating and eventual ignition of the lubricating oil vapors.

Nowadays, I can look out of my office window and see the black smoke across the harbor as the Navy teaches their sailors at their firefighting school. On the East coast, this school is legendary on how tough and frightening it can be on new recruits. The Navy takes their firefighting and damage control training very seriously.

I remember an older engineer telling me about this when I first started, to impress on me the need to do some job, long-forgotten now, correctly. He was pointing at the gearbox of the ship we were sailing on and telling me that they were the same model as the Kootenay. I thought then, what the heck have I gotten myself into, because my instructors were always careful to point out the consequences of incorrect work and how many lives could be impacted.

You can read further on the Kootenay's crew response to the accident from Stoker.ca, and from the CBC. Here, you can further on today ceremony, and here is an article on the actions taken following the accident.

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