Even though the Valcheum was visible on the radar screen, the crew of the
Santa Rosa admitted that the radar signals were not looked at for several critical minutes as the two vessels moved toward
At 2:58 a.m., the bow lookout on the liner reported hearing a fog signal
off the starboard bow. Siwik said he didn't look at the radarscope for another two minutes. When he did look, he saw that
the Valcheum was closing on his starboard bow and a crash was eminent.
Siwik said he ordered left full rudder even as he was seeing the lights of
the tanker loom out of the fog, off his starboard bow, just about a quarter of a mile ahead. He said he ordered the rudder
turned full right and the engines reversed full astern, hoping to pass astern of the Valchem. But it was too late.
The Valchem, owned by Heron S.S. Co. of New York, remained at sea only another
two years before it was scrapped. It was built in 1942 for Valentine Tankers Corp. of New York, and never had its name changed.
The Santa Rosa was built in 1958 to replace an older ship by the same name,
also owned by the Grace Line. There are two versions of what happened to it.
The first says the Santa Rosa remained in service until 1971 when it was
laid up by the line. In 1989 the liner was towed to Greece by new owners for rebuilding as vessel for the Regency Cruise Line.
But that company went bankrupt and the ship was purchased by new owners. They say it remains on the high seas under the name
Emerald. This vessel could not be traced, however, and may not exist.
In the second version, the owners were losing money on the passenger service,
so had the ship converted to an all container vessel and put it in service on the Caribbean. It became one of the first American
container ships involved in foreign trade. This enterprise did not work out well, however, and the ship was laid up.
Another report said the Santa Rosa then was sold again to a Houston, Texas
company, and was converted once more to serve as a crane ship operating under the name Equality State. She remained active
under that name on the high seas until recently, and may still be operating.