50 years ago, UNION FAITH crashed on the River. One Heroic Pilot’s account
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the UNION FAITH disaster, an event that transfixed the city of New Orleans.
On that day, a 24-year-old tugboat Captain, Douglas Grubbs, with his ship, the CAPPY BISSO, which had been docked near Toulouse Street, responded to the disaster on the river. Heading his ship straight into the fireball explosion, he was unable to see the ship in front of him because the flames were so incredible.
What he could not see was that a Taiwanese freighter had exploded within seconds of colliding with barges carrying 27,000 barrels of crude oil. He navigated through burning oil slicks to pull survivors from the water. The captain's heroic actions helped save 26 crew members from the ship and fire. He would later be awarded the Coast Guard Lifesaving Medal.