WW I gas sickens fishermen in Massachusetts

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by DavidBOC, Jun 8, 2010.

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  1. Not sure if this is current affairs or US forum material but if this is wrong, Mods please move it.

    Monday morning a clam dreger, the F/V ESS Pursuit dredged up 10 canisters from waters south east of the tip of Long Island, NY. The canisters were about 3 inches in diameter and 12 inches long and according to one of the fishermen were "bullet shaped" and had dates of 1918 marked on them. The men reported burning sensations and blistering after handling the cylinders. The vessel put into New Bedford harbor on the south coast of Massachusetts. The vessel disembarked one sick man to an ambulance and started out to sea, then returned with an additional sick crewman. At this point, the USCG Captain of the Port of Providence, RI issued a "Captain of the Port" order that the vessel stop and anchor. The Coast Guard called in the Mass. based 1st Civil Support Team consisting of 25 Army National Guard active duty members specializing in chemical and biological weapons.
    At this point 4 of the 6 crew members have symptoms. Two were treated and released by the hospital, one is in St Lukes hospital in New Bedford and one's condition worsened at St Lukes and has been transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. FYI Mass General is a first class trauma facility and also has a hyperbaric chamber used for breathing disorders.

    The clams had been offloaded and sold in New Bedford but the National Marine Fisheries Service has embargoed the clams until it is determined they are not contaminated.

    The cylinders apparently contain nitrogen mustard gas but 1st CST is continuing testing. The fishing vessel crew had thrown the cylinders overboard at the location where they were dredged up but supposedly hd a good GPS fix which was provided to the Coast Guard.


    There are currently 103 Civil Support Teams in the US, at least one in each state IIRC. I have worked with the Mass. 1st CST and they are very highly trained and competent.
     
  2. Presumably 75mm mle1897 rounds?
     
  3. French 75? Are you implying the fishermen had OD'd on cognanc, champagne, lemon juice and sugar?

    The US manufactured over a thousand guns of this pattern during WW1 of which about half were deployed with the US Army in France. The French used the 75mm to fire phosgene and mustard gas shells mainly, the rates of fire possible making up for the smaller payload. fifteen rounds per minute was sustainable as a rate of fire and the weapon had a much larger top-traverse enabling it to sweep a wider area without moving the trails.

    In the aftermath of Dunkirk, the British Army received 600 French 75s from the USA.
     
  4. Indeed - the QF Mk I. As opposed to the PAK97/38 :D

    Wasn't the Soixante Quinze cocktail supposedly linked to the Yanks of the Lafayette Escadrille?
     
  5. Now coincidence is ever present but today i confess to being mildly gob-smacked. keen Daily Telegraph readers will no doubt know that every day this summer the paper has been reprinting an extract from its pages of the same day, in 1940. Today's extract concerns the transfer of 600 French 75s to the British Army as part of the infamous horse-trade known as lend-lease.

    Then again we had very little choice at that stage in WW2, "US 1920s Ordnance Stockpile - Everything must go (PS We saw you coming)" was the only game in town!
     
  6. Not to forget another US weapon - the .30" Lewis Gun. Painted with red stripes to avoid confusion with the .303" Lewis. A lot of them were fitted with crude pistol grips and stocks and wondrously issued as hand-held anti-aircraft weapons. Many years ago I read the memoirs of an RN Coastal Forces officer (he had served under Peter Scott), who recalled with a mix of pride and horror the over-enthusiastic manner in which his Midshipman "1st Lieutenant" used one of these Lewises in firefights with E-boats.