April 16th of 1947 will forever live in infamy as the day the SS Grandcamp exploded: the deadliest of all industrial accidents in America, at the time.

What was the SS Grandcamp?

This ship was first commissioned in 1942 and served with the Pacific fleets during WWII.

Before what would be her final stop at Texas City, TX, she had made visits to Belgium, Cuba and Houston.

You see, the reason for the stop in Texas City was to load up cargo containing ammonium nitrate fertilizer. If you aren't aware, ammonium nitrate fertilizer is VERY flammable.

Dock hands remarked the 100-lb bags were quite warm to the touch as they were loading and unloading the cargo. This may have lead to even higher reactivity.

SS Grandcamp explosion

Just after 9 in the morning on April 16th, 1947, 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer caught flame and erupted, decimating the cargo ship herself and most of the harbor.

Texas City Disaster
Getty Images

To add even more fuel to the fire, it was common for bystanders to personally watch the Texas City firemen bravely do their jobs, so many came and watched the fire grow on the ship. This just added to the sheer volume of casualties seen that day.

Texas City Disaster
Getty Images

Damage from the SS Grandcamp explosion

An estimated 581 people lost their lives due to the explosion with thousands more injured.

To make matters worse, this disaster ignited a second ship nearby carrying the same flammable material. This created a second explosion just hours after the first one.

Property damage totaled about $67 million across the city, and there are landmarks dedicated to this horror that still stand today.

103 iconic photos that capture 103 years of world history

Stacker gathered some of the most iconic images from the past 103 years, beginning in 1918 and leading up to 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gallery Credit: Rachel Cavanaugh & Elizabeth Ciano

15 Most Disastrous Music Festivals in History

Here are some of the most disastrous music festivals in history, many of which proved unacceptably arduous for attendees, but a handful of others that unfortunately turned tragic. You might remember many of these instances — others you may not know about yet. Keep reading to find out.

Gallery Credit: Philip Trapp