S.S. Pan Massachusetts

S.S. Pan Massachusetts
S.S. Pan Massachusetts, built by Welding Shipyards, Inc. of Norfolk, VA in March, 1943.  Notice the meccano decking forward of the midship house used to lash down deck cargo during the war.  Frequently aircraft were transported in that manner.

Pan Massachusetts

Pan Massachusetts was built for National Bulk Carriers by Welding Shipyards, Inc., the company owned yard in Norfolk, VA.  Pan Massachusetts was essentially the same type of ship as the Pan Pennsylvania class, the Maritime Commission Type T3-S-BF1.  The photograph above may be compared to photographs of Bulklube and Bulkero with little if any difference noted.

Pan Massachusetts had a fairly explosive career.  On 18 May, 1947 she caught fire in Texas City, TX while loaded with aviation gasoline.  The fire raged for a day before being put out.  The ship was repaired and placed back in service in short order.  On 6 June, 1953 while on a voyage from Texas City to Philadelphia with a cargo of gasoline, she collided with another company ship, Phoenix, in the Delaware River and both ships exploded and burned. Phoenix was broken in two, and was determined to be a total loss.  Her stern section was salvaged, but the bow section apparently still remains buried near the river bank today.  Pan Massachusetts was also declared a constructive total loss, and was towed to Baltimore for salvage.  In 1954, she was towed to the new National Bulk Carriers shipyard in Kure, Japan and was lengthened and widened and placed back in service as Commonwealth under another National Bulk Carriers affiliate, Universe Tankships, Inc.  (See below for new dimensions.)  In 1964 she was renamed Calgary.  In 1965 she was sold, and renamed again, Defiant Spirit.  In November 1966, she arrived in Bahrain leaking, having suffered an engine room fire.  She was sold again and renamed Cerberus, but did not see any further service.  On 3 April, 1968 she left Bahrain under tow for scrapping.

In September 1968, while being broken up, Cerberus exploded due to her center tanks still containing about 22,000 gallons of oil.  Her number 4 wing tank was blown out, and tanks 3 and 5 were damaged severely.  About 100 feet of shell plating was blown open on each side, and her decks were buckled.  The bridge structure was destroyed.  The explosion caused a considerable fire in some salvaged oil which had been stored in drums on her deck, and this ignited the motor vessel Coastal Sentry which was being scrapped alongside with 57,000 gallons of oil onboard.  The Cerberus was fairly quickly extinguished, but Coastal Sentry burned intensely for about 15 hours before being extinguished.  The scrap yard lost a lot of salvaged equipment to the fires. Pan Massachusetts did not give up easily.

Ship Built Hull GRT DWT Length Beam Comments
Pan Massachusetts 1943 12 11,015 18,900 515'1" 70' Collided and exploded 6 June 1953.
Commonwealth 1943 12 18,671 31,362 646'8" 84'3" Rebuilt from Pan Massachusetts by National Bulk Carriers Kure Shipbuilding Division, Kure, Japan in 1954.

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Created by A. Davis Whittaker, Jr.
Last updated on 20 February 2005.