Adverts only show for non-members



Author Topic: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel  (Read 14054 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Online Michael Gallagher

On 23 July 1976 QE2 was steaming about 80 miles off the Scilly Isles heading for New York when the flexible coupling drive connecting the starboard main engine high pressure rotor and the reduction gear box ruptured. As a result lubricating oil under pressure was released into the main engine room with ignited creating a sever fire and explosion. The oil burned for 20 minutes before it could be brought under control. During that time the oil burned fiercely and flames shot up the funnel’s ventilating shaft about 100-foot away, blackening and buckling the funnel casing high above the passenger decks.

The blaze left the ship without the use of one boiler.

A 22-year-old engineer, Kenneth Lyon, from Liverpool was seriously burned on the face and arm while tackling the fire and was taken to a burns unit ashore in a Salisbury hospital. The hospital stated that he was the “best looked after” burns case ever admitted, a great tribute to the medical staff on board QE2.

Although the damage was limited to the Boiler Room, QE2 was in no state to continue to New York so she limped back to Southampton with the lower white casing of her funnel blackened.

Hampshire Police boarded QE2 by tender at Cowes Road to investigate whether the cause of the problem had been sabotage but this was soon ruled out.

Cunard explained that the coupling which broke consisted of two plates bolted together and was rather like a car’s clutch. The investigation carried out revealed the prime cause of the seizure was due to a mal-alignment of the rotor and gear box beyond tolerable limits.

Captain Hehir said that the fire party and other crew had done a “marvellous job” putting the blaze out.

The effected boiler had to be replaced by dry-docking the liner and cutting an access hole in her side to remove the damaged machinery and install its replacement.

Similar damage to an older ship would, perhaps, have resulted in its premature scrapping.

A round-trip Atlantic voyage was cancelled so repairs could be carried out. The 1,227 passengers on board this voyage and the 1,400 booked on the return were offered a 20% reduction of fares on the cancelled trips, or 50% off the fares of a future Cunard voyage – practically all opted for the 50%.

QE2 returned to service on 3 August after day and night repair work by engineers to repair the broken coupling.

Four crewmembers received awards from the Secretary of State for Industry for their prompt services in putting out the fire in 30 minutes.

A new set of turbine blades replacing the ones damaged in an engine room fire were fitted in January 1977 at Bayonne (New Jersey) during a special repairs period.
« Last Edit: Jan 13, 2012, 03:41 PM by Isabelle Prondzynski »

Offline Rod

Re: The Funnel
« Reply #1 on: Aug 27, 2011, 01:04 AM »
I am sorry. I must disagree with several points as to the fire.
Yes a gear box ruptured, sending a roughly 200 pound chunk of cast iron through a lube oil pipe. creating fuel for the fire.
Fortunately for ALL on board, the Engineer on duty in the TCR, turbine control room, decided what was going on and shut down the oil pump. He was in a glass windowed control room and mostly all he could see was flames. He had 2 doors and an escape hatch that led to a lower deck. He kept in constant touch with the Main Control Room and the Bridge. At no time did he abandon his post although it was becoming EXTREMELY hot  and all he could see were flames.
Eng fire parties were working but by this time fire had spread to the spaces directly upwards where the  Engineer elevator was. I was sent uo to the area around the base of the funnel to check on secondary fires. There were many but I got them out.
According to a Deck Officer on watch at the time flames were going over 100 feet out of the top of the funnel.
Now my points:
The ship never lost a boiler, it lost a low pressure turbine, with the the disasters that were planned for by the designers...a few bits of pipe and qe2 WAS READY TO GO ON REDUCED SPEED.
I made that sound a lot simpler than it was. After the few bits of pipe were fitted QE2 ran a 6 day Atlantic crossing.
There was NO damage to the boiler room apart from the extra wear and tear on our tea boiler because of all the extra people on duty.
Kenny Lyons, was not burned fighting the fire, he was caught in the fireball that blew out of the engine room and  went down the working alleyway

Offline Rod

Re: The Funnel
« Reply #2 on: Aug 27, 2011, 01:08 AM »
Ironically. Kenny Lyons had transferred to the Engine Room from the kitchen dept on another ship because he had been badly burned in a fat fryer fire!
I believe he ended up marrying one of his nurses from Salisbury.
The hole was cut in the ships side to get the turbine rotor out. Not a boiler.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: The Funnel
« Reply #3 on: Aug 27, 2011, 08:17 AM »
Great to hear from someone who was there. It sounds like an inferno!

I am sure there was extra wear and tear on the drinks supplies as well, after all was under control again...

So the working alleyway was affected (that must have been terrible for Kenny Lyons, especially after his earlier experience). Was the inferno contained within the crew areas? Did the passengers notice the extent of what was going on? That is, apart from the flames issuing 100 feet upwards from the funnel... there may well have been panic...

Online Rob Lightbody

  • Administrator
  • Queens Grill Diner
  • *****
  • Posts: 10953
  • Total likes: 11145
  • Helping to Keep The Legend Alive
    • Rob Lightbody dot com
Re: The Funnel
« Reply #4 on: Aug 27, 2011, 09:36 AM »
Amazing stuff! And amazing that she then did a 6 night crossing ( faster than the new queens now do!)
Thanks so much for sharing,, you should write a book!
Passionate about QE2's service life for 35 years and creator of this website.

Offline Rod

Re: The Funnel
« Reply #5 on: Aug 27, 2011, 10:36 AM »
Great to hear from someone who was there. It sounds like an inferno!

I am sure there was extra wear and tear on the drinks supplies as well, after all was under control again...

So the working alleyway was affected (that must have been terrible for Kenny Lyons, especially after his earlier experience). Was the inferno contained within the crew areas? Did the passengers notice the extent of what was going on? That is, apart from the flames issuing 100 feet upwards from the funnel... there may well have been panic...

Fortunately the fireball died quickly.
To be honest, I do not know about the pax. They must have because of the lack of noise, fans shut down, no a/c etc, ship not moving. hoses were laid out and filled, with fire parties at hand in the pax accom, for boundary cooling some were actually used. Don't forget that the funnel casing went through pax accom  around F stair

Offline Rod

Re: The Funnel
« Reply #6 on: Aug 27, 2011, 10:47 AM »
I know regular announcements were made over the PA.
Another point. There were stairs from the ER all the way up to the Engineers change room on Sports deck. To save weight, these were made of aluminium, as it was melting it dripped onto the people below who were fighting the fire. Still have little dots round my collar line!.
I believe that services were restored to pax and the ship got underway around 10am..not positive about that.
Dress rules were suspended in the Wardroom for 4 hours! Drinks were free as many pax sent money up.
Tommy Goode and John Griffin, the duty Electrician, were presented with silver trays by the DoT.
The first thought was sabotage, IRA, but a preliminary inspection by Bob Venning, EOD Officer ruled that out. Turned out, as said to be an alignment problem. When we got back to "normal" a contraption, consisting of piano wire, kept taught by a big weight was used to check this until re-engining. This was before lasers!

Online Rob Lightbody

  • Administrator
  • Queens Grill Diner
  • *****
  • Posts: 10953
  • Total likes: 11145
  • Helping to Keep The Legend Alive
    • Rob Lightbody dot com
Re: 1976 Fire, explosion & damage to QE2 includiung the funnel
« Reply #7 on: Jan 12, 2012, 10:44 PM »
A 22-year-old engineer, Kenneth Lyon, from Liverpool was seriously burned on the face and arm while tackling the fire and was taken to a burns unit ashore in a Salisbury hospital. The hospital stated that he was the “best looked after” burns case ever admitted, a great tribute to the medical staff on board QE2.

I'm amazed, delighted, surprised and honoured to say that we received an email today from Kenneth Lyon, about this amazing story which has left both himself and QE2 scarred ever since.

Here's Kenneth's email, reproduced with permission

Quote from: Kenneth Lyon
From: kenneth lyon
Date: Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 1:17 AM
Subject: FIRE 23 JULY 1976
To: THE QE2 STORY <admin@theqe2story.com>


Greetings to you all at THE QE2 STORY,
 
I read the section on the fire that took place on 23 July 1976  and the badly burned 22 year old engineer.
 
It has brought back so many memories of the biggest disaster of my life.    I am that engineer I am kenneth lyon.
 
More than 35 years ago since I was almost killed at 5am in the morning of 23 July 1976 in the engine room of QE2,  and I can remember every second of the events that took place  leading up to the explosion and fire.
 
I am now 58 years old and still alive and well exept for the damage to both my hands that were almost totally destroyed by the fire.
 
The comments made in this site are quite accurate but not completely accurate,   The crew members treated me with kindness and I would also like to pay tribute to all the kind passengers many of which were from the USA.
 
All of these people and all my fellow crew members gave me so much support and help through the many  months of pain and surgery
And Doctor Oliver  of QE2 the first person I saw when I opened my eyes.     I asked for a mirror and they would not let me see.  I asked for a cigarette and Doctor Oliver allowed me only 2 puffs and then took it away.    All these details I can still remember vividly.
 
I would like to hear from anyone with any interest in QE2  and any crew members that can remember that day or remember visiting me in hospital.
 
Keep up the good historic work  on QE2.
 
 
look forward to hearing from you.
 
 
KENNETH  LYON   Mechanic   23 July 1976
Passionate about QE2's service life for 35 years and creator of this website.

Offline Rod

Re: 1976 Fire, explosion & damage to QE2 includiung the funnel
« Reply #8 on: Jan 12, 2012, 10:54 PM »
WAY TO GO KENNY!  Delighted to see you are still with us.
I hope what I posted was accurate. Should be close. Hope you become a regular poster.
Rod Fair

Online Rob Lightbody

  • Administrator
  • Queens Grill Diner
  • *****
  • Posts: 10953
  • Total likes: 11145
  • Helping to Keep The Legend Alive
    • Rob Lightbody dot com
Re: 1976 Fire, explosion & damage to QE2 includiung the funnel
« Reply #9 on: Jan 12, 2012, 11:03 PM »
More...

I then emailed Kenneth, on all our behalfs, and receive this reply from Kenneth

Quote from: Ken Lyon
Hello Rob,
 
Thank you for your early reply to my mail.
 
Of course you may make this information available for all interested people that are members on your website, you are most welcome.
 
I have enclosed some pictures although not pleasant to look at will give people the chance to see the damage that was caused to me personally as a result of the fire.
 
The QE2 also appears to have its own scars which will remain for the rest of her life also.   It has been so long now nearly 36 years this 23 July,  a day that I certainly will never forget.
 
I would really like to hear from any crew members that were there at the time as there were so many visited me in hospital  from July right up to December when I was transfered to Liverpool Whiston hospital.
 
At 58 now it does not bother me to talk about the event itself but every day where ever I go people will always ask what happend to my hands and I just got used to it.    Its not that they find it horrific Its just that they are naturally curious.  My own crew where more helpfull with their kindness and also all the passengers more so than Cunard.
 
Every time QE2 came alongside in southampton  Packing cases were sent to the hospital full of every kind of fruit you could imagine from all over the world,    this I ordered to be given to all the children and other burn victims in the unit as I was to ill to even consider eating it myself and there were many others that did not even have any visitors.
 
My family was brought down from Liverpool a number of times but could not stay so long as Cunard were not happy to keep paying the hotel bills.   I was gratefull for the visits of my crew  and also the sisters at a local salisbury convent  that gave all the things that I needed in the absence of my parents.
 
The future of QE2 seems at this time uncertain,   I understand that Liverpool vision is interested in bringing her home to Liverpool to become part of the Mersey skyline,   the chances of this seem pretty slim at this time but if this ever comes to pass I shall return to board her again.    I have seen her once in the mersey some 15 years ago but have not been on board.
 
Myself and QE2 appear to be going into retirement together.    I  guess by looking at the funnel   the scars will remain forever with her as with me.
 
Look forwrd to hearing from you again soon Rob   and sure I would like to join in and become a member on your site.
 
 
KEN LYON
Passionate about QE2's service life for 35 years and creator of this website.

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: 1976 Fire, explosion & damage to QE2 includiung the funnel
« Reply #10 on: Jan 13, 2012, 10:01 AM »
I was pleased to see that Ken Lyon has joined the Forum.  The accident and subsequent treatment must have been quite horrific for a young man and his family to go through.  Five months of hospital treatment - not good. 

But what is amazing is that through the Forum hopefully he will be able to tell his story, which is also part of the QE2 Story.  Looking forward to hearing from you Ken. 
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Offline John Drew

Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2014, 01:27 AM »
Hello Kenny Lyon, I remember the fire very well. It started at 0420hrs, if you remember you were on the 4-8 shift as bilge diver if I remember correctly and on your second shift having worked the afternoon before. When the fire alarm went off everyone could tell it was for real as the fire sucked all the air out of the working alleyway and Mechanics cabins off the working alleyway and we all rushed out to find out what we should do to help. We had several fire parties to attack the fire with breathing apparatus and after changing over tanks as each only lasted around 20mins I offered to go up to my workshop ( port side of the funnel base) to fill the tanks up. Flames were shooting up around 30ft out of the funnel until the fire was under control. After you were taken to the hospital a call went out for anyone with a spare fans to get them to the hospital  to help cool you down. There are many more details but best left out as you are the one that suffered badly and we all felt so badly for you. The ship was later back up and running on just the port engine and looking at the engine room it was a wonder that one worked. I believe their was a ocean going tug that offered help but was told to keep out of sight so as not to alarm the passengers so the fire damage could be toned down.
The HP Turbine was removed for repairs and the low pressure turbine had extra steam applied to speed it up so we get back most of the ships speed while they repaired the HP one.  What a night!!!

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2014, 08:00 AM »
Thanks John for adding your first hand account of this story about the 1976.  It must have been very distressing for crew, especially when they saw that Ken Lyon had sustained serious burns. 
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Offline June Ingram

  • Global Moderator
  • Queens Grill Diner
  • *****
  • Posts: 7870
  • Total likes: 4544
  • Beautiful, elegant QE2 - forever Queen of the Seas
Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2014, 02:29 PM »
Thank you very much, John, for your description of the events of that fire. 
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Offline Adam Hodson

  • Ocean Liner Enthusiast
  • Princess Grill Diner
  • ****
  • Posts: 845
  • Total likes: 78
  • A young photographer, and a QE2 & Concorde lover!
    • Flickr Photostream
Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2014, 03:41 PM »
What an interesting description of the night. Thanks for posting.
"The QE2 is one of the last great transatlantic liners, and arguably the most famous liner in the world"

"QE2 and Concorde, a partnership that lasted almost 30 years... two stunning pieces of engineering, never to be forgotten!"

Offline Adam Hodson

  • Ocean Liner Enthusiast
  • Princess Grill Diner
  • ****
  • Posts: 845
  • Total likes: 78
  • A young photographer, and a QE2 & Concorde lover!
    • Flickr Photostream
Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2014, 03:45 PM »
...so as not to alarm the passengers so the fire damage could be toned down.

Apart from the blackened funnel? ;)
"The QE2 is one of the last great transatlantic liners, and arguably the most famous liner in the world"

"QE2 and Concorde, a partnership that lasted almost 30 years... two stunning pieces of engineering, never to be forgotten!"

Offline Ken Lyon

Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2014, 11:01 PM »
HELLO John Drew,

I read your post about the fire and all you have said is correct.

I remember it was 0450hrs when I was leaving the engine room with empty containers for the cage just outside on 6 deck.  I was climbing the steps as it all kicked off.  there was only seconds to spare for me to make a decision to either make for the exit or get back down and take cover in the control room.

Looking back now I am still undecided as to whether I made the right choice.  there was so little time to spare.   If I had gone back down to the control room I don't think I would have made it in time and would not be here today,    I made the decision to exit on to 6 deck and believe me I moved FAST,    As I was running I shouted fire in the engine room but before I could get the words out there was a massive blast which filled the allyway with flames instantly,  I really thought It was the end.

As to what you said about the fans for the hospital I can remember that and doctors were all over me,  I remember the sound of alarms and I could hear shouting and footsteps running on 6 deck.  No one thought I was ever going to make it.    Only the day before I was asking did anyone have a spare boiler suit as I had left mine behind on the last ship.  Its a good job I was not wearing a nylon one as  I would for sure not have survived.   I was only wearing a    t  shirt and a pair of old officers trousers. the shirt was gone in an instant but those old trousers saved my legs.

So many people here remember that terrible morning and It must also have been terrifying for the passengers.   Fire aboard ship can spread much faster than people realize and only good training and experience can save the day.   If anyone else is reading this that took so many risks to fight the blaze that day  I would like to say thanks for getting me back home safely to shore and im sure the passengers were thankful also.

Im always ready for a chat  kenneth.lyon@hotmail.co.uk

CHEERS! EVERYONE

Offline Adam Hodson

  • Ocean Liner Enthusiast
  • Princess Grill Diner
  • ****
  • Posts: 845
  • Total likes: 78
  • A young photographer, and a QE2 & Concorde lover!
    • Flickr Photostream
Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2014, 11:05 PM »
Thanks Ken for your memories of that awful incident. What an amazing story, and I'm sure you were very lucky. :)
"The QE2 is one of the last great transatlantic liners, and arguably the most famous liner in the world"

"QE2 and Concorde, a partnership that lasted almost 30 years... two stunning pieces of engineering, never to be forgotten!"

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2014, 11:49 PM »
Welcome Ken, and good to see you here! Good in every possible way -- such a close thing and you might not have made it...

Wonderful to read that the passengers and crew rallied round and made sure you could be as comfortable as at all possible. Thank you for all you did for the ship. It will not be forgotten.

Offline Alan Snelson

  • Global Moderator
  • Queens Grill Diner
  • *****
  • Posts: 1128
  • Total likes: 829
  • Ships Photographer '78 - '82
Re: 1976 fire, explosion & damage to QE2 including the funnel
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2014, 06:17 PM »
Hello Ken,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your memories of an incredible and life changing event. That is one of the many great things about this forum, that we get to hear first hand accounts of real life events on a remarkable ship from a fantastic crew.

It would be great to hear more of your memories from your time aboard if you get the time to post.
Don't just be part of her past, be part of her history!