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Learn More About the John B. King

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The John B. King was a drilling barge 140 feet long. It exploded and sank in the Brockville Narrows in 1930, killing several people. The wreckage is now submerged in 90 to 160 feet of water. The size of the debris field attests to the power of the explosion.

John B. King, exploded, 26 June 1930

Sea to Sky

“”Thirty Die When Lightening Sinks Boat Near Brockville. Bolt fires dynamite, blows craft to bits.
Men Killed In Bunks. Only Eleven Are Rescued When Drill Boat Is Splintered By Lightning And Workers Sent To Bottom. Gallant Coast Guardsmen Pick Up Survivors Clinging To Wreckage
and Find One Body. Search For 29 Other Dead Prosecuted Without Result So Far. DEBRIS TOSSES 200 FEET HIGH BY TERRIFIC FORCE OF BLAST.

William Marchingtom, Staff Correspondent of the Globe

The scow was working off the point of Cockburn Island, blasting a St Lawrence Seaway channel through the Brockville narrows, and had drilled several dynamite holes. A bolt of lightning struck the boat at 4:30 p.m. while it was drilling another, travelling down the drill and igniting the dynamite on the river floor.

The explosion was witnessed by US Coast Guard Cutter 211, which then rescued 12 of the 42-member crew.

John B King
DJC1969, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Public Works Canada erected a memorial plaque on the north-west corner of Cockburn Island in 1930.

River Search Ends : 17 Bodies Missing

Hopes Abandoned After Long quest At Drill Boat Blast Memorial Is Suggested

Brockville Aug. 12: :: Captain T. D. Caldwell returned yesterday to Ottawa after being stationed here sInce a day or two following the explosion of the drill boat J. B. KING on June 26th. with the loss of 30 lives. He represents the Department of Public Works in an effort to locate all the bodies possible. Although the Dept. spent $8,O00 in it’s endeavour to bring to the surface of the river the victims of the disaster, only 13 bodies were found, there are still 17 bodies unaccounted for beneath the waters of the St. Lawrence and in the opinion of Captain Caldwell, they will not likely now be recovered. The boilers and machinery of the drill boat are said to be twisted into an immovable mass through the terrible force of the explosion. Capt. Caldwell believes everything possible has been done to recover the bodies. There is a feeling that the site of the drill boat disaster should be marked with a cairn, or some memorial.

Toronto GLOBE
      Thursday, August 14, 1930

The wreck is now located 80 feet west of Cockburn Island. It is a popular dive site, and some divers have perished while exploring the wreck.


La Galigo

About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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