On the 8th January 1979 the entered tanker “Betelgeuse” was moored at Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay Ireland discharging a cargo of 114,000mt of crude oil when, at about 01:00hrs, she suddenly exploded. The explosion and fire caused the death of all 41 crew, one visitor and eight shore terminal workers. Tragically only 27 bodies were recovered. The vessel burned fiercely and eventually split in two, sinking 12 hours after the explosion in 40 metres of water.
As part of the Club’s response to the casualty the firm of Smit & Co were appointed to conduct the wreck removal of the remains of the vessel. Sadly a Dutch diver died during this operation.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the tragedy the Club has laid a wreath at the “Betelgeuse” memorial in St Finbarr’s Church graveyard in Bantry.