Maritime Day observance to recall sinking of Texaco Oklahoma

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, May 10, 2016

By Janet Cline

Special to the News

When the SS Texaco Oklahoma broke apart and sank in heavy seas 45 years ago this past March, some 13 Port Arthur seamen were among the 31 crewmen who lost their lives. A memorial service at 10 a.m. Friday, May 20, at the Seamen’s Memorial Sundial on Procter Street and a luncheon to follow will commemorate those Port Arthur residents and the other seamen of the Oklahoma.

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The event, which will include a procession to the seawall to lay a wreath upon the water, is sponsored by the Port Arthur International Seafarers Center, Port of Port Arthur, Apostleship of the Sea-Beaumont Diocese, the Propeller Club and the U.S. Coast Guard-Port Arthur steering committee.

Doreen Badeaux, Apostleship of the Sea representative, said the Seafarers’ Center is issuing a special invitation to all relatives, friends, and colleagues of SS Tx. Oklahoma crewmen to participate in the commemoration. Those planning to attend or wanting more information may call Badeaux at409-718-2627.

The memorial service will be followed by a free luncheon at the Seafarers Center, 401 Houston Avenue, sponsored by the Port of Port Arthur.

The tankship SS Texaco Oklahoma departed Port Arthur with a cargo of black oil and was about 120 miles northeast of  Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in a heavy storm on March 27, 1971,when it broke in two and subsequently sank. Only 17 of the ship’s crew of 48 survived; 15 in a life raft rescued by the Liberian tankship Sasstown, and two rescued directly from the sea by the SS Texaco Nebraska.