Jets Help In 'Battle Of The Beaches' With Bombs On The Torrey Canyon

1967 , West Raynham (Norfolk)

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An interview with Squadron Leader Spike Jones RAF about his mission to alleviate the Torrey Canyon oil spill by dropping napalm at the scene.

An interview with Squadron Leader Spike Jones at RAF West Raynham, discussing his squadron’s mission earlier that day to ignite the oil slick created by the SS Torrey Canyon disaster using napalm. Notes from Anglia Television relating to this film describe a shot of two aircraft taking off as it opens, but the shot is missing from this film. With a Hawker Hunter jet parked in the background, Squadron Leader Jones is asked how successful the napalm attack on SS Torrey Canyon earlier that day had been. Jones replies that it was moderately successful: all of the dropped napalm tanks had hit their intended targets, but they failed to ignite the oil slick emanating from the tanker. Jones goes on to explain that six napalm tanks had been dropped on the scene by his squadron of three Hunter jets: Jones dropped the first two tanks directly onto the slick with both failing to ignite the slick; a second aircraft dropped a pair of tanks onto the deck of the Torrey Canyon, which set the deck alight but failed to spread to the oil in the water; and a third aircraft dropped one tank on the deck and one in the sea, with oil again failing to ignite. When asked about the approach taken to carry out the mission, Jones replies that the aircraft adopted the “… standard profile for this sort of game” by flying at a height of 50ft and a speed of 420 knots. Jones is asked by the interviewer whether smoke impeded the operation, to which Jones replies that the third aircraft was forced to delay its run on the tanker whilst the smoke from the first two runs cleared. The interviewer asks Jones to describe the scene as he left Seven Stones Reef, and Jones explains that the ship itself was well down in the water with a thick black pall of smoke rising above it. The interviewer asks Jones how long the RAF held stocks of napalm, and Jones explains that the chemical was made up overnight and earlier that morning. Finally Jones is asked why the aircraft flew from Norfolk to Cornwall using an oversea route, as opposed to the more direct approach over land. The squadron leader explains that this was an added precaution to guard against any danger of an accidental release of the tanks over land. He adds finally that the weapons would need to be fused manually from the cockpit in order to become live, so any accidental jettison wouldn’t result in the napalm igniting.

Keywords

Environmental Disaster; Torrey Canyon Disaster; Oil And Petrol; Military Aircraft; Hunter Jets; Royal Air Force

Background Information

"The Torrey Canyon oil spill was one of the world's most serious oil spills. The supertanker SS Torrey Canyon ran aground on a reef off the south-west coast of the United Kingdom in 1967, spilling an estimated 25–36 million gallons (94–164 million litres) of crude oil. Attempts to mitigate the damage included the bombing of the wreck by aircraft from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, causing a potential international incident, as the ship was not British, and was in international waters. Hundreds of miles of coastline in Britain, France, Guernsey, and Spain were affected by the oil and other substances used in an effort to mitigate damage. At the time, it was the world's worst oil spill, and led to significant changes in maritime law and oil spill responses. It remains the worst spill in UK history." Wikipedia

Manifestations

Jets Help In 'Battle Of The Beaches' With Bombs On The Torrey Canyon

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    Parts
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  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV289935
    Canonical Identifier
    2006/1002
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Details
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    16mm film
    Colour Type
    unknown
    Has Image
    Y
    Has Sound
    Y
    Identifier
    Image Polarity
    unknown
    Modification Date
    21/11/2007
    Parts
    Reference
    651915
    Sound
    sound
    Sound System
    mag stripe

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