It took a great deal of patience and fifty-seven 5-inch cannon shells to sink the British tanker Alva Cape on Sunday (3 July).
It took a great deal of patience and fifty-seven 5-inch cannon shells to sink the British tanker Alva Cape on Sunday (3 July). But the 16,000 ton ship, which was carrying explosive naphtha, finally went down approximately three hours after the U.S. Coat Guard cutter Spencer started firing. The shelling began about 10 a.m., 125 miles east of New York City in the Atlantic Ocean.
After pumping shells into the hull of the Alva Cape, the Spencer stopped firing because the crew could not see through the smoke and haze. But when the visibility improved, the tanker was notice aflame from stem to stern, listing heavily, but sinking slowly. At 1:06 p.m. the Alva Cape went down.
Authorities had ordered the sinking of the Alva Cape after she figured in two accidents that claimed 37 lives.
New York City Mayor John Lindsay had asked that the ship be removed from his city, " because," he said, "it posed to great a danger to the people of the city."
On 16 June, the Alva Cape collided with a United States tanker in a narrow channel in New York harbour called the Kill Van Kull. Thirty three men died when the British ship's cargo of naphtha exploded.
On 28 June another explosion ripped through the ill-fated vessel in a New York waterway known as Gravesend Bay. Four men were killed in the second blast.