19th December 2007

Flying Phantom sinks on the Clyde

The Flying Phantom sank at Clydebank after 26 years at sea. The tug had been built for the Clyde Shipping Company, and passed through several owners in the intervening years. She was assisting a Panamanian-registered bulk carrier called Red Jasmine when she faltered. Three of her four crewmen lost their lives; the fourth was injured.

Delayed unloading

Due to various delays, Red Jasmine had spent the previous three days at anchor, waiting to offload her cargo of animal feed, and, as she was more than 200m long, it was imperative that when she eventually did move, she at least turned the first corner in the Clyde before darkness fell, for safety reasons. The timing of her eventual entry to the docks was therefore only decided after a degree of consultation. It was also determined that she would be assisted by no less than three tugs, of which the Flying Phantom was one.

She turned the first corner without difficulty, as arranged, but fog soon started to roll in. Things started to go wrong around five and a half hours after Red Jasmine started her manoeuvre, as she drifted away from the centre of the river, towards the concrete wharves of the shipyard. The captain asked the crew of the Flying Phantom to pull Red Jasmine back into position but, in doing so, the Flying Phantom was itself grounded and started to tip. The mate escaped out of the wheelhouse but, when he looked back, he could already see water entering the cabin through the opposite door. His crew mates were still inside.

Flying Phantom capsizes

The mate jumped into the water and swam to safety, but the Flying Phantom turned right over and sank, too quickly for anyone else to escape. The bodies of the three crew who had lost their lives were recovered by police divers over the next three days.

A subsequent investigation ruled that several factors contributed to the sinking and loss of three lives, and when the vessel was raised the following year, it was sent to be scrapped.



Other events that occured in December

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