Fifty years ago the terrible sinking of the London Valour

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shipwreck london valour
Shipwreck of the Llondon Valour

London Valour, it was April 9, 1970. On that day, a very violent libecy hit the Gulf of Genoa. A weak northerly wind blew in the morning, which did not last long. It could do nothing in the face of the violent depression approaching from Libeccio, heralded by an atypical long wave and very low barometric pressure. In front of the breakwater was anchored the London Valour, a merchant ship, which would sink within hours.

London Valour: April 9, 1970, the terrible shipwreck

Around 1:30 p.m., all of a sudden, the wind began to blow from the southwest at over 100 km/h, and the waves shortly exceeded 4 meters. The engines were undergoing maintenance and the crew was unable to activate the engine to move away from the coast. Within an hour, the ship was at the mercy of the waves. The anchors were certainly not enough to hold down the nearly 30,000 tons of the London Valour, which took to plowing, bringing the ship dangerously close to the seawall.

“And the anchors lost, thehe bet and the claws.”

Fabrizio De André in the song, “Speaking of the London Valour shipwreck.”

Not much time passed and the ship went stern hard into the rocks. Helicopters and patrol boats arrived on the scene as the ship broke in two under the incredulous eyes of the city, which watched helplessly as the force of the sea. However, no boat, or hardly any, could safely leave the harbor to rescue the sailors on board. In a desperate attempt to save the crew, a double nylon cable was stretched between the seawall and the ship’s deck to get them through a sling and pulley. Hopes for the operation’s success soon disappeared when the movements of the waves against the ship began to strain and violently loosen the line, throwing the sailors into the water or against the rocks.

Behind the breakwater, tugboats search for a way to render aid to the crew of the London Valour, crushed by waves against the breakwater

Dorothy, wife of Captain Edward Muir, also plunged into the sea, under the eyes of her husband. The man at this point unfastened his life jacket and jumped into the sea to save her, also disappearing into the waves. Of 58 people embarked on the merchant ship, only 39 were saved.

Of the London Valour only 39 sailors were saved

Of these, more than 26 were rescued by the Harbormaster Giuseppe Telmon, who with patrol boat CP 233 ventured into the open sea. The operation lasted for more than six hours and is remembered as one of the most difficult ever carried out by Port Authority assets.

The wreck, stranded and semi-sunken, was taken away by two tugboats after a year, in 1971. The goal was to sink it in the Balearic abyss, over 3500 m deep. The hull, however, due to its poor condition, sank only ninety miles off Genoa where it remains today.

Image source:
genova.repubblica.it
/ Coast Guard

 

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