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1975 sinking of Carib Star

1975 sinking of Carib Star

April 10, 1975: An engine room explosion causes the 147-foot Catalina excursion vessel Carib Star to begin sinking at its dock in San Pedro.

A bomb was suspected to be the cause of the explosion. Staff writer Jack Jones reported in the April 12, 1975, Los Angeles Times:

Coast Guard investigators said Friday that they had “reason to suspect” that a bomb caused the explosion which sank the Catalina cruise ship Carib Star at her Los Angeles Harbor main channel berth Thursday night.

But a Coast Guard spokesman stressed that no definite conclusions would be drawn until the 600-passenger-capacity ship was raised from the mud beneath the Vincent Thomas Bridge so the blast hole could be examined.

No one was aboard the excursion craft when the explosion tore her apart at 10:38 p.m., four hours after she returned from a run to Santa Catalina Island.

Two hours after firemen had to leave the blazing, smoking vessel because she was sinking by the stern, an anonymous telephone called told the Long Beach Independent-Press Telegram:

“You can tell this people not to sell the steamer to the Arabs. This is just a warning.”

The caller, who reportedly had a Middle East accent, apparently referred to last fall’s publicity over possible sale to Kuwait of the SS Catalina–the so-called “Big White Steamer” also operated by the company operating the Carib Star.

But Robert Filson, president of Catalina Motor Cruisers, said there had been no further action on any sale to Arab interests. ….

A followup story in the April 20, 1975, Times reported: “An ‘improvised explosive device’ was probably responsible” for the sinking of the Carib Star.

The Carib Star was raised and, after six months of repairs, reentered service.

On April 17, 1975, a suspect was arrested in connection with other bombings and attempted bombings, but charges against the individual were dropped for lack of evidence. No one was ever convicted in the Carib Star incident.

The Catalina was not sold to Kuwait.

April 11, 1975: The Carib Star on the bottom at berth under the Vincent Thomas Bridge. This photo was published in the April 12, 1975, Los Angeles Times. Credit: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

April 16, 1975: The Catalina cruise ship Carib Star hangs in cradle from crane after being raised from bottom. This photo was published in the April 17, 1975, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Jack Gaunt / Los Angeles Times

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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