Ships Crash in Foggy Buzzards Bay Off New Bedford 60 Years Ago
The USS Nodaway (AOG-67), a type T1 Klickitat-class gasoline tanker, was built for the U.S. Navy during World War II, but the Navy never commissioned the vessel. Instead, the 325-foot-two-inch-long tanker met a cruel fate in Buzzards Bay, just off New Bedford.
St. John's River Shipbuilding Company of Jacksonville, Florida, began the construction of the $1,022,203.48 million Nodaway in January 1945, but in August, the Navy canceled the acquisition of the vessel.
The Merrill-Stevens Drydock & Repair Company completed construction in September 1945 and renamed the tanker West Ranch. Sun Oil purchased the vessel in 1946 and changed the name to Dynafuel.
On November 14, 1963, at 6:58 a.m., Dynafuel collided in Buzzards Bay off New Bedford with the Norwegian freighter SS Fernview and caught fire.
Dynafuel was scrapped that year due to damage from the collision and fire.
The United States Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation says the collision occurred in "dense fog in the western approaches to Buzzards Bay." The inquiry found, "The collision occurred in daylight with otherwise good visibility being limited by fog, in patches, to a distance varying between 1/8 and 2 miles."
According to the Coast Guard's report, "The wind was from the northwest at about 17 miles per hour" at the time of the collision. The tidal current was "nearly slack."
The Fernview was "enroute New York to Boston" at a speed "about 18 knots." The Coast Guard says, "Apparently, the only person on the Fernville to hear fog signals from the Dynafuel was the Lookout who reported same immediately prior to collision."
The Dynafuel was "enroute Cape Cod Canal to Newark, New Jersey." Witnesses from the Dynafuel "testified that they did not hear the Fernville's fog signals."
The Coast Guard says, "The ships remained locked together until approximately 0730 on 15 November when they separated at the Dynafuel capsized and sank." The Coast Guard determined that "the principal cause of this casualty was the failure of the M/V Fernville to proceed at a moderate speed in fog."
The Fernville was able to proceed to Boston under her own power. Five crewmen aboard the Dynafuel were injured in the collision and airlifted from the stricken tanker for medical treatment.