William E. Galligan, 39, chief pumpman, saved Pierre D. Baird, 35, chief engineer, and five others from burning, New Castle, Delaware, March 7, 1957. At night when a tank ship collided with another large vessel in the Delaware River, two violent explosions occurred, starting fires and claiming the lives of 10 persons, including all deck officers, as the bridge area between the forecastle and after deck disappeared beneath the surface. Baird and five other members of the engine crew were below deck in the engine room as the tank ship began to sink 1000 feet from the river bank. Galligan, who was prevented from reaching his post amidship because of the water and also flames issuing upward as much as 30 feet from the ship’s fuel tanks, aided in launching a lifeboat in which 26 other crewmen left the ship. Galligan remained behind, thinking that the engine crew might not be fully aware of their danger and fearing they might be trapped below deck unless warned of the situation. From the boat deck he descended to the second and third decks and thence to the engine room, where he found the men attempting to restore steam for power and to put fire-fighting apparatus into operation. Galligan immediately returned to the second deck and tried unsuccessfully to turn on a fire extinguisher valve. He then moved to a grating above the engine room and called down to the men that the burning ship was sinking and that one lifeboat already had gone. Baird and the others quickly secured the boilers and then gathered on the boat deck with Galligan and a steward who had been in the ship’s galley. With Galligan and two others crouching below smoke and gusts of flame near the remaining lifeboat, the men managed to lower the boat into the water 20 feet below. The current tended to carry the boat against the ship into oil burning on its sides, but with effort the men rowed to safety. None of the men sustained burns. Galligan’s hair was singed while helping to launch the lifeboat.
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