The Liverpool-registered merchant ship MV Derbyshire was a state-of-the-art bulk carrier when she was launched in 1976. The length of three football pitches and as wide as a six-lane motorway, the Derbyshire had been built with the capability to convey both liquid and solid cargoes. When she set sail from the west coast of Canada on July 11 1980 she was carrying over 150,000 tons of iron ore and was bound for Japan.
Early September found her in the East China Sea making her way towards her final destination. It was the height of the storm season and the Derbyshire had the misfortune to run into typhoon Orchid. The last radio transmission from the ship was received on September 9; it reported a heavy tropical storm. Some time on that or the following day the giant ship sank without trace and with all hands on board. The area was searched for a week afterwards but nothing was found and the ship was declared lost.
There matters might have rested, and the loss of the Derbyshire would have been regarded as an unexplained and terrible maritime accident, had it not been for the tenacity of the families of the crewmen. It was seven years before the British government finally agreed to hold a formal inquiry into the incident, but the families rejected its conclusion as a whitewash. It was not until 1994 that an intensive search operation was finally mounted; remarkably, the wreck was located within 24 hours, even though it lay over 4 km (2.5 mi) down on the seabed. The formal inquiry was reopened in April 2000. The conclusion this time was that the vessel’s buoyancy had been compromised and that the cargo hold covers had simply collapsed beneath the sheer weight of the mountainous seas.
When was the Sinking of the Derbyshire: September 9 or 10 1980
Where was the Sinking of the Derbyshire: East China Sea, between Taiwan and Japan
What was the Sinking of the Derbyshire death toll: All 44 people on board died: 42 crewmen and two wives.
You should know: The MV Derbyshire is the largest British merchant ship ever to have been lost at sea.