The John B. King was a Canadian ship that exploded when lightning struck

·2 min read
The John B. King was a Canadian ship that exploded when lightning struck
The John B. King was a Canadian ship that exploded when lightning struck

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This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features stories about people, communities, and events and how weather impacted them.

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On Thursday, June 26, 1930, the John B. King exploded after getting struck by lightning near Brockville, Ont.

The John B. King was launched in 1863. It was a 140-foot wooden drill boat, Canada's largest drilling boat at the time.

Courtesy Brockville Museum
Courtesy Brockville Museum

Courtesy Brockville of Museum

The crew, consisting of more than 40 people, was working off the point of Cockburn Island. They were drilling and blasting a St. Lawrence Seaway channel through Brockville narrows.

The crew of the JB King, including the dog, King. Courtesy Brockville Museum
The crew of the JB King, including the dog, King. Courtesy Brockville Museum

"The crew of the JB King, including the dog, King." Courtesy of Brockville Museum

Thunderstorms are not rare in that part of the river, so when sudden squalls appeared, the crew continued to work.

But a bolt came down and struck the vessel that was packed with dynamite. The scow exploded, and 30 members of the crew died. Some of the members who survived the blast latched onto pieces of the ship.

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R. A. McNeill, who survived the incident, said that the bottom of the ship seem to just break away and he found himself floating on a plank in the water. "It was all over in an instant," said McNeill, and it happened so quickly that it was hard to tell what occurred.

The United States Coast Guard Cutter 211 witnessed the explosion and rescued 12 members of the crew.

The shipwreck is located just west of Cockburn Island. It's a popular dive site.

1920px-Jb-king-plaque
1920px-Jb-king-plaque

"Memorial plaque on Cockburn Island to those who lost their lives in the explosion and sinking of the John B. King drill boat." Courtesy of DJC1969/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

In 1930, the Department of Public Works Canada dedicated a memorial plaque to honour those who died in this maritime disaster.

To learn more about the John B. King incident, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

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Thumbnail: "The John B. King drillship, a 43-metre long wooden boat, was the largest drill boat in Canada at the time." Courtesy Brockville Museum

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