|Here’s the media release from the Merseyside Maritime Museum
Posted: 09 Mar 2017 06:09 AM PST
Merseyside Museum commemorates Suez Canal anniversary
14 merchant ships were stranded in the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal at the start of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt in 1967. They were trapped there for eight years until Egypt reopened the canal in 1975. Four of the ships were British flagged, including three from Liverpool shipping lines: MS Melampus and MS Agapenor from Blue Funnel Line, and MS Scottish Star from Blue Star Line. The fourth British ship was MS Port Invercargill of the London-based Port Line.
Though the original trapped crews were replaced after a couple of months, over the years around 3,000 seafarers served on the ships, helping to maintain them and their precious cargos, right in the middle of a war zone. The period was the height of the Cold War, the ships may have come from both sides of the Iron Curtain, but as Ben Whittaker, Curator of Maritime History and Technology explains, it didn’t stop them forming their own ‘United Nations’.
“The ships were going nowhere, over time camaraderie grew between the crews irrespective of their country of origin. Inspired by the part of the Suez Canal they were stuck in, they established what was to become a unique community; the Great Bitter Lake Association”.
If you or a family member were on one of the stranded ships on the Great Bitter Lake during the Six Day War and want to share your story and be part of the reunion, contact Ben. Telephone 0151 478 4401 or email [email protected].