The SS Grandcamp was a re-activated 437-foot-long (133 m) Liberty ship. The SS Grandcamp was originally named the SS Benjamin R. Curtis in Los Angeles in 1942. It served with the Pacific fleets during World War II.
After the war was over, the U.S. government offered the ship to France to aid in the restoration of Europe. A French line renamed it SS Grandcamp after the beach at Normandy, “Grandcamp-les-bains.”
On April 16, 1947, smoke was spotted in the cargo hold of the SS Grandcamp while in the Port of Texas City. The ammonium nitrate reached an explosive threshold from the combination of heat and pressure; the vessel then detonated, causing great destruction and damage throughout the port.
The tremendous blast sent a 15-foot (4.5 m) wave that was detectable nearly 100 miles (160 km) off the Texas shoreline. Official casualty estimates came to a total of 567, including all the crewmen who remained on board the SS Grandcamp.