31st January 1953. ‘Ro-Ro’ Disaster.
The biggest sea disaster since World War II happened Today on a Saturday afternoon in 1953 when MV Princess Victoria was hit by the storm which had gone up the North Channel then rounded Scotland down to the East Coast causing devastation to East Anglia and Canvey Island in Essex.
The British Railways Mail-Vessel sunk, when, according to one of the crew at the inquest, the guillotine doors above the stern-gates of one of the early roll-on-roll-off (ro-ro) ships, The Princess Victoria, were left open.
The vessel built in 1947 by William Denny of Dumbarton, and owned by British Rail Ferry sank off Belfast Lough with the loss of 133 lives: no women and children were saved.
The boat was on the Stranraer to Larne route in rough seas in the North Channel when a powerful wave hit the stern gates, bursting them open and causing flooding of the ship.
The water swept into the car deck and swept the cargo onto the starboard side causing the ship to list and eventually sink. The vessel was 5 miles off Copeland Islands and within sight of the Down Coast, in Northern Ireland.
The Court of Inquiry at Belfast found the Victoria was not sea-worthy with the stern- doors not strong enough and with lack of drainage on the car-deck.
About 40 were saved with the wireless operator who stuck it out to the end being posthumously awarded the George Cross. None of the officers survived.
Ref: Radio Ulster Article. 25.11.2013 Karen Atkinson/radio-ulster.
Ref: wikipedia.org/mv_princes_victoria/Pic Image.